Calorie-laden lady may sing for Florida salons
When the all-Democrat-appointed Florida Supreme Court re-wrote Florida election law, its ruling was designed to give four counties selected by the Gore campaign more time and looser criteria to provide more votes for Al Gore. But why did the Florida Supremes only extend the manual vote counting deadline to 5:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, November 26, 2000? Because it did not want the Florida Legislature to have time to call a special session and exercise the powers granted to it under Title 3, United States Code, Sections 1 and 2.
Title 3, United States Code, Section 1 says: “The electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in each State, on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, in every fourth year succeeding every election of a President and Vice President.” This year, that was November 7, 2000.
Title 3, USC, Section 2 says: “Whenever any State has held an election for the purpose of choosing electors, and has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the Legislature of such State may direct.” Florida did not make its choice on the day prescribed by law. Therefore, the Florida Legislature could call itself into a special session and appoint 25 electors to represent Florida at the Electoral College this December 18th.
Why did Palm Beach County say it could not complete its manual recount by the deadline imposed by the Florida Supremes and asked Secretary of State Katherine Harris for an extension until 9:00 a.m. on Monday, November 27th? This observer suspects the Democrats in control of the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board could have met the Sunday deadline. But why do that when they could cast a cloud over the Sunday certification and, hopefully, give the Gore lawyers another issue to raise in court?
You see, the Florida Supremes gave Secretary Harris the option of keeping her office open on Sunday and certifying the results at 5:00 p.m. or staying closed on Sunday and continuing to receive manual recounts until 9:00 a.m., EST, on Monday, November 27th. Now, the Gore lawyers will claim she abused her discretion by keeping her office open on Sunday.
Even though George W. Bush won Florida on November 7, 2000, and has now won --count ‘em -- four Florida recounts, let us hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will take the Florida Supremes to the legal woodshed. You see, a 113-year-old federal statute forbids the States to decide presidential elections based on rules adopted after the voting. It says, “any controversy or contest” over who shall serve as a presidential elector must be decided on the basis of “laws enacted prior to the day fixed for the appointment of electors.” In other words, the Florida election statutes in effect on November 7, 2000 should have prevailed.
Therefore, a major issue to be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court is: Did the Florida Supreme Court rewrite Florida’s elections laws ex post facto when it set its own date for the conclusion of the election and, by so doing, prevented the Florida Secretary of State from certifying the results of the election as prescribed by Florida law?
Moreover, Al Gore’s lawyers told the Florida Supremes that an Illinois case provided “a sweeping directive to count controversial ‘dimpled’ ballots, in which ballots were indented but not punched through.” Not so. The Illinois court actually affirmed the trial judge’s order to exclude dented ballots because the judge decided: “He could not reasonably determine the voters’ will by examining the ballots.” Lawyers who lie to judges can be censured and even disbarred.
Don’t be surprised if the U.S. Supreme Court says the elected members of the Florida Legislature should decide this matter and not seven justices -- all appointed by Florida Governors of one particular political party.
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and a featured commentator for USA Today.