The end is near.
November 17, 2000 7:45 AM   Subscribe

The end is near. Judge Terry Lewis rules that Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris can disregard recounts in Florida counties.
posted by m.polo (10 comments total)
Keep watching this. Lewis has gone back on his rulings before.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 7:47 AM on November 17, 2000

How can you possibly believe that the end is near, since this ruling came from a county circuit judge? The final disposition of those votes will reach the Florida Supreme Court and perhaps the U.S. supremes.
posted by rcade at 8:17 AM on November 17, 2000

Once the Florida Supreme Court decides it, that will be the end. So long as they limit their ruling to matters of state law (which the challenged election procedure is) the Supreme Court does not have the jurisdiction to review it.

The only pending federal matter is the Bush injunction, which will be moot if Judge Lewis' ruling is upheld.

Moreover, the most likely point of attack on appeal is not Judge Lewis' ruling this morning but his ruling earlier this week regarding the Secretary's power to accept or reject late and amended returns. I wouldn't hold my breath if I were a Gore supporter, though, since Judge Lewis clearly split the baby and any review of that ruling could easily go either way - especially given the mandatory language in Florida Statutes, Section 102.111 which requires the rejection of late returns.
posted by mikewas at 8:31 AM on November 17, 2000

<sigh> Apparently, irony is out, as rcade has so pointedly remarked... (I dunno, mike, but a part of me hopes the Bill and the US Supremes do get involved, if only to limit how long we're going to drag this out...)
posted by m.polo at 8:44 AM on November 17, 2000

Personally, I think the only way to get out of this mess is to redo the election in Florida. As it is now -- with the courts most likely to settle the thing -- whoever wins will come out as damaged goods.
posted by leo at 8:57 AM on November 17, 2000

Let's just make Strom Thurmond president and get this over with ;-)
posted by gyc at 9:07 AM on November 17, 2000

Even if the Florida Supreme Court confines its ruling to Florida law, there can still be an appeal to the Supreme Court _if_ the defendants lose at the Fla. Supreme Court _and_ the defendants had made a Federal law _defense_ against the State law claims. You can be almost certain that in any case brought by Gore which threatens to be dispositive, Bush will make a Federal defense or two, or intervene as a defendant to be SURE he can make such a defense, in order to preserve just such a recourse.

Note that if Gore _loses_ at the Florida Supreme Court and his claim were only State, _he_ would have no appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, _unless_ the Florida Supreme Court expressly relied upon the Federal defenses in making their decision.
posted by MattD at 9:38 AM on November 17, 2000

Remember, the Supreme Court can pick and choose which cases to hear. If i was them, i wouldn't touch this with a ten-foot pole.
posted by dcodea at 10:18 AM on November 17, 2000

The Supreme Court will have jurisdiction in matters of Electoral College law should the Gore camp move to challenge the seating of Florida's electors, assuming that occurs. I don't believe they will do this unless absentee ballots and recounts together result in a more substantial margin (say, at least 4 figures) in their favor. But you never know.

Chicago Public Radio had an interesting interview this morning suggesting that given the mandate-less presidency we all face, the Supreme Court will probably avoid voluntary retirements for the next four years. (They have a long tradition of cooperatively managing them to space them out, e.g. generally only one voluntary retirement a year, never in an election year, rarely if there has been a recent involuntary retirement.)
posted by dhartung at 11:15 AM on November 17, 2000

That Chicago report doesn't sound too reliable.

By the end of the current term, there will have been no retirements for 7 years, the longest span in history (I believe).

You can also see that really isn't much in the way of "spacing" which can be inferred from the past 34 court years:

1994-2001: 0 retirements (0.00 a year)
1986-1994: 6 retirements (.75 a year)
1976-1986: 1 retirment (0.10 a year)
1967-1974: 5 retirements (.71 a year)

If Bush is elected, you can count on 2 or 3 retirments in the next 4 years. (Rhenquist and O'Connor -- and Stevens may retire, esp. if Rhenquist or O'Connor has a moderate replacement).

If Gore is elected, Stevens will certainly retire, and Ginsberg might retire in 2003 -- 10 years on the Court and in her mid-70's, although that's not likely. If the Republicans have a strong Senate position after 2002, and Stevens replacement were moderate, Rhenquist might also retire in 2004 -- Gore would be forced to appoint a moderate in his place.

Rhenquist lived through the ugly decline of William O. Douglas in the mid-1970's, and the only-slightly less ugly decline of Thurgood Marshall in the late 1980's, and although Blackmun and Brennan seemed to have all their faculties about them, he certainly couldn't have been happy to see them confined to the Court's workload into their 80's.

Byron White's retirement after a 30-year run, while still healthy and in his mid-70's, and despite knowing Clinton would replace him with a more liberal Justice, may well have set a bit of a precedent for putting self above defending ideology into the grave.

posted by MattD at 11:39 AM on November 17, 2000

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