Courts set to rule


Cox News Service

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Vice President Al Gore’s teetering presidential hopes rest in three Tallahassee courtrooms toFday as the state Legislature opens a special session that could lead to the naming of Florida’s electors for George W. Bush.

Gore’s last, best chance to reverse Bush’s 537-vote statewide victory may be his appeal before the Florida Supreme Court to have nearly 14,000 questionable ballots from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties recounted by hand. The seven-member court heard oral arguments Thursday and could rule as early as today.

Bush’s lawyer, Barry Richard, told the high court that “not a single shred of evidence” exists that Floridians failed to have their legitimate votes counted.

David Boies, arguing for Gore, told the court that every time elections officials in South Florida looked at questionable ballots, “they found votes.” He urged the high court to order a recount in selected counties, saying “time is getting very short.”

As the Florida justices pondered, two other judges in a nearby courthouse heard testimony and final arguments in cases from Seminole and Martin counties, where Democrats allege Republican officials conspired with GOP workers to alter absentee ballot applications. A ruling in at least one of the cases is expected today.

Should the Democrats prevail in either case and obtain a judge’s order tossing out the absentee ballots from even one of the counties, Gore could overtake Bush’s Florida victory, pending further court appeals.

If Gore is to overcome Bush’s lead, he needs time and votes. By law, Florida should name its 25 electors by Tuesday, six days ahead of the Dec. 18 date when the Electoral College chooses the next president.

But if the state’s high court rules against him, Gore could find weary Democratic allies ready to abandon further legal challenges after a tumultuous month with precious few court victories.

“This is coming to an end,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. He said a Bush presidency “looks more and more” likely.

Gore’s legal team refused to rule out further court action. In Tallahassee, Gore attorney Dexter Douglass was asked about previous statements from Democratic lawyers that the Florida Supreme Court would be the final arbiter of the presidential dispute.

“You thought that, and we might have thought that, but it might not be,” he told reporters. “And I’m going to give you an answer that’s ambiguous, because until that unlikely event … occurs, we won’t make a decision as lawyers to make a recommendation to our client.”

Win or lose before the high court, if Gore continues to press his case, Florida legislators are prepared to guarantee a slate of electors for Bush.

House Speaker Tom Feeney and Senate President John McKay, both Republicans, said the historic step of calling a special session was necessary to ensure that Florida’s 6 million voters were not disenfranchised, and that the state would be represented in the Electoral College.

The state House and Senate are scheduled to convene today and hold committee meetings, before recessing for the weekend.

The session, the first attempt by any state legislature to insert itself into a presidential contest in more than a century, promises to be highly contentious and partisan. If lawmakers act, it will take the presidential dispute into unknown territory and pose the threat of a constitutional crisis over the selection of president.

Democrats have threatened to file lawsuits challenging any resolution or bill that may be passed by the Legislature that seeks to name electors.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Members of South County Fire practice onboarding and offboarding a hovering Huey helicopter during an interagency disaster response training exercise at Arlington Municipal Airport on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. The crews learned about and practiced safe entry and exit protocols with crew from Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue before begin given a chance to do a live training. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish, King counties train together for region’s next disaster

Dozens of agencies worked with aviators Tuesday to coordinate a response to a simulated earthquake or tsunami.

Police stand along Linden Street next to orange cones marking pullet casings in a crime scene of a police involved shooting on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lake Stevens man identified in Everett manhunt, deadly police shooting

Travis Hammons, 34, was killed by officers following a search for an armed wanted man in a north Everett neighborhood.

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company's new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Lawsuit: Funko misled investors about Arizona move

A shareholder claims Funko’s decision to relocate its distribution center from Everett to Arizona was “disastrous.”

1 stabbed at apartment in Lynnwood

The man, 26, was taken to an Everett hospital with “serious injuries.”

A firefighting helicopter carries a bucket of water from a nearby river to the Bolt Creek Fire on Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022, on U.S. Highway 2 near Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Red flag fire warning issued west of Cascades

There are “critical fire weather” conditions due to humidity and wind in the Cascades, according to the National Weather Service.

A house fire damaged two homes around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo provided by Marysville Fire District)
Fire burns 2 homes in Marysville, killing 2 dogs

Firefighters responded to a report of a fire north of Lakewood Crossing early Tuesday, finding two houses engulfed in flames.

A transit rider steps onto a Community Transit bus on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Police: Passenger randomly stabs man in neck on bus in Everett

The two passengers reportedly did not know each other before the attack. Police arrested a suspect hours later.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Mountlake Terrace eyes one-time projects for $2.4M in federal funds

Staff recommended $750,000 for a new roof and HVAC at the library, $250,000 toward a nonprofit facility in Lynnwood and more.

The Snohomish River turns along the edge of the Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve at Thomas’ Eddy on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
To build a healthier Snohomish River, more log jams

About $2.8M in grants will help engineer log jams, tear down levees and promote salmon restoration at Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve.

Most Read