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The Florida Recount: Campaign Trail Likely Will End in Florida Supreme CourtAired November 15, 2000 - 2:34 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's check in now with our election law analyst Kenneth Gross; he joins us from Washington.
Mr. Gross, is there a way to simplify all of this without a flowchart? What's going on with the legal moves in Florida today?
KENNETH GROSS, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: Well, I don't know if we can simplify it, but I see a trend here that's actually encouraging. I think these cases are starting to congeal.
We've been thinking all along that, ultimately, this is going to have to be decided by the Florida Supreme Court, and now both the Bush group and the Gore campaign are both looking towards the Supreme Court. They have different ideas as to how to get they're both coming to the recognition that it should go to the Supreme Court; and all the cases, except for a couple, would be consolidated.
You basically have all the cases except the underlying butterfly case that is being heard on Friday and, of course, the federal case, which is being taken up in Atlanta.
WATERS: Would you expect the Florida Supreme Court to be the final arbiter in all of this? No matter what the decision, Warren Christopher, one, was asked if that was that would be the end of it, pending a Florida Supreme Court decision. He was uncertain of whether or not he should answer that question.
GROSS: Well, I think it's highly likely that it will end in the Florida Supreme Court, but not absolutely for sure. In an ordinary case, when you're dealing with issues of statutory interpretation such as this, the final arbiter is the Supreme Court of the state in which those issues arise.
The only way to get to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is the only court to go to above the Supreme Court of the state, is there has to be a federal question. And right now the only federal question that's been introduced has been in the federal case that the Republicans have brought on the 14th Amendment; but I don't know that that's going to be enough to get the Supreme Court to take the decision -- the U.S. Supreme Court to take a decision after the Florida Supreme Court rules. So I think it's likely we'll have the final ruling from the Florida Supreme Court. WATERS: The 11th circuit business; there's still the matter there about recounts. The recounts also are being deliberated by the Florida State Supreme Court. That seemed to be at the crux of the matter -- whether or not there will be hand recounts allowed?
GROSS: Yes, I think that is the crux of it. I think that the case involving the balloting itself, on the butterfly ballots, which will be heard on Friday. The remedy there really would really require a revote, not just a recount. And it is an extraordinary circumstance to get a revote. In fact, that would raise a constitutional question as to whether you can actually have a vote on a day other than the first Monday after the -- the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November as proscribed by the Constitution.
So that case, I think, is a separate situation. I think the other ones, though, are going to end up before the Florida Supreme Court and get resolved there.
WATERS: For the Democrats, Warren Christopher said they wanted answers from the Florida Supreme Court on three matters: are the hand counts appropriate, what would be the deadline for those, and what are the standards for determining which ballots should be counted?
The question is, why are some of these recounts going forward without those standards first being set?
GROSS: Well, actually, I believe in Palm Beach they are, in fact, waiting for that. So Palm Beach has held enough off until the hear from the Supreme Court. Broward, apparently, will proceed without that Supreme Court ruling, although they haven't started counting either because of logistics -- the ballots haven't gotten to them yet.
So I think that, perhaps, maybe, they'll count the noncontroversial ones and they'll put aside the controversial ones. I guess there are a number of ways to approach it.
WATERS: So for most of us, we can't see through the maze, but you, a legal law expert, can see a light at the end of the tunnel here?
GROSS: I do see this congealing and all roads -- although they're on different roads -- pointing towards the Florida Supreme Court. So I think there's some encouragement that we might actually get some sort of decision here and move on with the results.
WATERS: All right, thanks; election law analyst Kenneth Gross in Washington.
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