A sharply divided Florida Supreme Court (4-3) thrust Election 2000 back into chaos, and the nation with it, by its partisan decision on the afternoon of December 8, 2000.
The Court uncharacteristically reversed key portions of the ruling of Circuit Court Judge N. Sanders Sauls. It ordered an immediate recount of all undervotes at the 11th hour prior to the December 12th date the State of Florida electors must be certified. Approximately two weeks ago it did not order such a recount. This court, so concerned at the start of this latest hearing about its jurisdiction, apparently decided not only to exercise jurisdiction, but to do so in the manner that would cause the most confusion.
It would seem as if the Florida Supreme Court wants to throw the selection of Florida's electors into the State Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, setting the stage for more legal hassles at a later date.
The Legislature, anticipating some boondoggle affecting the deadline, has already had a special session, and will it will meet again on December 13th to name the state's electors. This was not the preferred result, but one that the Florida Supreme Court has apparently forced by its split decision. On this 4-3 decision, Chief Justice Wells, Justices Harding and Shaw dissented.
Meantime, the case will be appealed immediately by the Republicans to the United States Supreme Court, which may or may not choose to review the case. The appeal will center on whether the Florida Supreme Court has made "new law" ... that is, has created legislation rather than confining itself to the interpretation of the law.
It is quite apparent that four Florida Supreme Court Justices were distressed about Gore's apparent loss in Florida, a clearly partisan decision.
If Al Gore finally garners enough dimpled chads to apparently win Florida, and the Court orders that the Democratic electors be certified as the state's slate to the Electoral College, it is conceivable that this election could wind up in the United States House of Representatives.
Whatever the final outcome, Al Gore's relentless ambition has managed to taint the entire Election 2000 no matter which candidate finally becomes the president of the United States.
Americans are ultimately the losers, because we now have a deeply divided nation and conceivably we will face four years of total gridlock in the Congress rather than conciliation and focusing on the issues.
It will take until Election 2004 to heal the wounds inflicted by this election. By that time, we hope that all Americans will recognize that it is a disservice to the whole nation to leave the vote for president blank ... if you don't vote, the lawyers and courts will order the election boards to divine the intent of the voter and vote for you.
That is not our understanding of America, but when the people renege on their privilege and duty, someone will step in and take over, be it lawyers, courts, or eventually a dictator.
America ... are you listening?
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© Dorothy Anne Seese, 2000
View expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Political USA.