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The Florida Recount: Election Stops at State Supreme CourtAired November 18, 2000 - 1:22 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GENE RANDALL, CNN ANCHOR: Feel as if you need a law degree to keep up with events in Florida? Well, how about settling for a lawyer -- now there's a question for you.
Our legal analyst, Greta Van Susteren, is in West Palm Beach.
Greta, other than the lawyers, who's on first in Florida?
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, you asked whether we need lawyers -- I think, actually, what CNN needs to have is a mathematician on board, Gene.
Behind me, by the way, is where the counting is going on inside this building, but there are an awful lot of interesting, fascinating legal challenges. The one we have our eye on, of course, is the Florida Supreme Court; that hearing is on Tuesday. But over the weekend the lawyers on both sides are scrambling to meet deadlines to get their briefs in, which are, simply, their written arguments about what they're going to argue at 2:00 p.m. on Monday.
RANDALL: On Monday, right. Greta, while ,on the one hand we are hearing that the sides will have one hour each to present their arguments, that may be something of a misunderstanding in that the justices may take up a lot of that time asking their own questions, isn't that so?
VAN SUSTEREN: Oftentimes that does happen, Gene, but you hope that what the judges will do after they realize they've chewed up half your time asking questions, a couple things will help. One is they'll give you a little extra time, maybe; secondly, it gives you a lot of guidance as to the direction which the court is going. So as you finish your argument -- if, in the beginning of the argument, they're asking certain questions, you really know what they've sunk their teeth into, you know how to fashion the rest of your argument.
One thing I should point out, though is that the Florida Supreme Court is giving an hour to both sides. Usually in appellate arguments you get only a half an hour, even 15 minutes. In a death penalty case, for instance, you can only get a half an hour in most states for the arguments. You can see the Florida Supreme Court realizes that this is a very, very issue.
RANDALL: Now, we have two issues here, and that is there is a legal course and there is a political course. Legally speaking, I suppose the losing side in the Florida Supreme Court could take it to the federal courts; but, politically speaking, do you think that is a workable situation -- taking it out of the Florida courts?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I think after the Florida Supreme Court rules there's going to be one very unhappy side because I think that really will be the final world. You can't just automatically go to the United States Supreme Court. In order to go to the United States Supreme court you have to have an issue that involves the Supreme Court, and what we're talking about here is Florida state election law.
And in most instance -- and that's why we saw yesterday that the United States court of appeals in 11th circuit basically told the Bush people they would not -- that they weren't interested in their request to shut down the hand count. You see that the federal system isn't interested. This is not really their job, this is a state matter.
Now, I think right now, as I sit here, will this issue out of the Florida Supreme Court ever get to the United States Supreme Court? I don't think so. I think this is a state issue; but this is such an unusual case that I would never go out on a limb and say never -- it won't happen in this particular case. This is a one of a kind.
RANDALL: And Greta, finally, give us the bottom line arguments that each side will be presenting on Monday before the Florida Supreme Court -- first the Gore side.
VAN SUSTEREN: Gore people are going to say the secretary of state abused her discretion when she said, I will not consider the hand count vote results. The Bush people will say, listen, you don't even have to agree with her decision. The only issue is whether she abused her discretion when she made that decision. Was it capricious, was it whimsical, or did she look at some facts and the law and make a reasoned decision? That's what the two arguments will be.
RANDALL: Aspiring mathematician, Greta Van Susteren in Florida; thanks Greta.
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