NewsHour: The Florida Recount Supreme Court Case – November 28, 2000

MARGARET WARNER: Late this afternoon, the Bush and Gore legal teams filed their briefs on Bush’s pending appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. The court is set to hear arguments Friday morning. We asked two observers to read today’s filings, and brief us on them.

Jeffrey Rosen is a law professor at George Washington University, and legal affairs editor at the New Republic Magazine. Stuart Taylor is a legal affairs columnist for the National Journal. What we didn’t tell our viewers which was that we insisted you take a speed reading course because these just came out.

But, Stuart, the gist of Bush’s appeal was that the Florida Supreme Court had overreached when it extended the vote- counting deadline down there. What do you think were the strongest arguments that the Bush brief makes in support of that?

STUART TAYLOR: Just to give the gist a little more fully, the claim is that the Florida Supreme Court violated federal law, both an act of Congress from 1887 that was passed after the Hayes-Tilden problem, and Article II of the Constitution violated federal law by changing Florida law after the November 7 election in an effort by the Gore camp to change the outcome of the election, which the Florida state Supreme Court, the Bush camp argues, basically went along with.

Now the strongest points, I think, are the state court did say in its opinion that the state’s legislation on this was hyper-technical, and the seven-day deadline for completion of hand counts and the certification of the election results just seemed sort of silly to them and didn’t work in this instance because you needed more time for hand counts, and therefore, they were going to junk that and write their own rules.