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Bush Wins Big Victory In Florida Contest; U.S. Supreme Court Asks Florida To Please Explain

December 5, 2000

Judge N. Sanders Sauls delivers his judgement George W. Bush has had a big victory in the legal battle surrounding the US presidential election. Judge N. Sanders Sauls, a Leon County Circuit judge, has dismissed Al Gore's application contesting the certification of the Florida results and ruled out any further recounts.

The judge denied every application for recounts in a number of counties. He found that there was no credible evidence that a recount would produce a different result. He upheld the legality of a range of decisions made by county canvassing boards.

Gore attorney, David Boies, announced that the Sauls decision will be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. Later, court spokesman, Craig Waters, announced that the court will hear argument on the appeal at 3pm on Tuesday.

Boies also suggested that the Florida Supreme Court was the place for the matter to be ultimately resolved, an indication that a defeat there may bring a concession of defeat from Al Gore.

Earlier today, the US Supreme Court "vacated" its decision in a contest brought by Bush against the extension of a deadline for recounts. In what is thought to be an unprecedented decision, the justices have sought an explanation from the Florida Supreme Court of the reasons for its earlier decision to extend the deadline for recounts.

The Supreme Court set aside, but did not over-rule, a decision of the Florida Supreme Court to permit selected manual recounts to extend beyond the November 14 deadline.

What Now?

  • An appeal against the Sauls decision will go to the Florida Supreme Court. The court has a record of dealing with these issues expeditiously.

  • The Florida Supreme Court must respond to the US Supreme Court, whilst simultaneously dealing with the Sauls appeal. The US Supreme Court decision is looking increasingly irrelevant to the eventual outcome.

  • Gore's last hope of trumping Bush lies in court cases in Seminole and Martin Counties tomorrow. Challenges have been filed against the admission of 15,000 absentee ballots in these counties. The ballot applications were initially rejected because they had not been correctly filled in. Republican Party campaign workers were subsequently permitted to alter the applications, mainly by the addition of voter ID numbers. The applications were then accepted.

  • The political pressure on Al Gore will intensify now. A rejection of his appeal to the Florida Supreme Court will likely see Gore concede the election, although the Seminole County case may be the "smoking gun". Gore is not a party to the Seminole case.

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