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Separation Of Powers Debate May Determine Florida Outcome

November 23, 2000

George W. Bush is citing the doctrine of the separation of powers in support of his appeal to the United States Supreme Court to overturn the decision of the Florida Supreme Court to allow manually recounted votes to be included in the final results.

Bush argues that the Florida court decision effectively rewrites the election laws of the State, in breach of the separation of powers. This doctrine requires that there be a clear separation between the legislative, executive and judicial arms of the political system. Unlike in Australia's parliamentary system, where the Prime Minister and other ministers (the Executive) are also members of parliament, the American system forbids any member of one arm from holding office in another.

The Bush team argues that the Florida court's decision to set a new deadline for submission of vote tallies usurps the role of the legislature which determines election laws. It contends that by making determinations on how elections are carried out, the court breached the separation of powers.

Further, Bush argues that the Federal Constitution has been breached because voters were denied equal protection and due process because the recounts are not being uniformly conducted.

The US Supreme Court has not yet decided to hear the case. Like all superior courts, it is not automatic for applications to be heard.

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