Excerpts of the Florida Supreme Court hearing Monday

Associated Press

"Public officials have a responsibility to count and recognize the votes of all Floridians who voted in this presidential election. Factors such as administrative inconvenience, expediency or the limitations of vote-reading machines pale in comparison to protecting the voting rights of our citizens." — Florida Deputy Attorney General Paul Hancock, representing Attorney General Bob Butterworth.

"The court is certainly aware of the historic nature of this session and is aware that this is a matter of utmost and vital importance to our nation, our state and our world." — Chief Justice Charles Wells.

"If you concluded that it was essential to avoid unfairness or some kind of overweighting of one county’s vote over another county’s vote, this court has within its equitable power to have a statewide recount, if you concluded that that was necessary." — David Boies, Gore campaign lawyer.

"The court is being brought into something it need not be brought into. This is not a legal problem; this is a political problem. If the voting is certified, everyone can then proceed with a contest. The difficulty is the political problem that is created." — Joe Klock, Bush campaign lawyer.

"And I would urge that the court not, after the election has been held, change the rules by which the election should be conducted.

" … I just did want to bring the court’s attention very quickly, if I could, to 3 USC, Section 7, which makes it clear that the federal courts — federal law will not allow this court or the Florida Legislature to change the rules of the election after the election has taken place, to avoid precisely the evil I have been discussing, which is that there will be ad hoc decision making that could be influenced by subjective or partisan concerns." — Michael Carvin, Bush campaign lawyer.

"I’m not urging in any way that this court do anything that would imperil Florida’s electoral votes." — David Boies, Gore campaign lawyer.

"I think the recounts must stop if the seven-day cutoff occurs, unless the secretary of state in the exercise of the discretion that the Florida Legislature has given her, determines that there is rational reason for them to continue.

"It is the job of the secretary of state. It has been reposed in her by the Legislature and two constitutions. The United States Constitution and the Florida Constitution, in unusually explicit language, have delegated that decision, not to the state of Florida, not to the courts of the state of Florida but to the Legislature of the state of Florida." — Barry Richard, Bush campaign lawyer.

"Tell me when Florida’s electoral vote would be in jeopardy." — Chief Justice Charles Wells.

"Justice Pariente expressed concern about the dilution of votes with recounts. Obviously, no one’s vote is diluted in a legal sense by counting other valid votes." — Deputy Attorney General Paul Hancock.

"Now, unfortunately, we spent the last hour and a half to two hours, and certainly the last few weeks, listening to everybody trumpet the rights of the voters. But the rights of the voters aren’t what this is about. This is about the crafty use of a statutory scheme in an attempt to skew election results. And that’s just not appropriate." — Harold Mardenborough, lawyer representing Republican voters.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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