|DECEMBER 09, 14:47 EST
Editorial Opinion on Fla. Recount
By The Associated Press
Excerpts from editorials
in U.S. newspapers Saturday on the latest developments in the
The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.
When all the subplots play out, the business of being president
begins. The winner will have
every bit of power he would have had
if he had won in a landslide. His future will
how he uses that power, not on how his
enemies patronize him. Bill Clinton, after
being president despite an 8-year campaign
to delegitimize his election.
Philadelphia Daily News
With all three well-reasoned decisions
yesterday, the Florida courts have given new life to a
principle that has been battered in this presidential
election: that every vote should
What we shouldn't live with —
if we have any concern for democracy — is
the Florida state
legislature putting the fix in
by sending Bush electors to the U.S. Congress if Gore actually
turns up the winner.
Times Union of Albany, N.Y.
The Florida Supreme Court has reaffirmed, albeit by the narrowest
of margins, what was a
sensible ruling all along. This presidential
race shouldn't end until manual recounts are
completed in all of the counties where
earlier tallies remain in dispute.
Resolution is needed, once more, by the highest court of all.
It was one thing for lower-court Judges Nikki Clark and Terry
Lewis to declare that the 'full
and fair expression of the will of the voters' has been made
clear in Martin and Seminole
counties. Other counties must be heard
from now. In turn, those
results will require
reaffirmation by a legal authority that's
beyond appeal. A concession speech by Mr. Gore
should not be ruled out. But neither should his campaign,
as it wages on in court.
The Daily Gazette of Schenectady, N.Y.
Just when it seemed almost over, the post-election presidential
campaign has become more
uncertain and tumultuous than ever. The 4-3 decision by the
Florida Supreme Court gave Al
Gore's campaign new life, but the court
would have done better to order a full statewide hand
count a couple of weeks ago, when it
made its first ruling on this election. ...
But the court's decision makes it possible that rival sets
of electors will lay claim to Florida's
votes, leaving the decision to a divided Congress (with Gore
the tiebreaker in the new
Senate), and possibly the final decision being made by Gov.
Jeb Bush, the presidential
candidate's brother (talk of conflict of interest being unlikely
to deter either Gore or Jeb
The Buffalo (N.Y.) News
While the court's ruling doesn't yet
settle this election either way, it is a victory
At the heart of the court's decision
is the American belief that every vote counts.
includes votes in all 67 Florida counties, not just in the
Democratic strongholds the Gore
campaign had targeted.
That's a bedrock principle, one that this newspaper has long
What emerged from Friday's courtroom drama was a clear statement
of the importance of
voting, made by judges who showed courage in asserting the
rule of law despite the impact
their decision may have on their personal and professional
Daily News of New York
Yesterday's ruling was a thunderbolt in this stormiest of presidential
races. It was, to be sure,
a victory for Al Gore and for the national
plurality of voters who picked him. But much more is
at stake than the fortunes of one man or one party. This
was a triumph for democracy where
every vote counts.
New York Post
Whether this attempted hijacking will stand remains to be seen.
... Again, the Florida panel
has changed the rules in the middle of the game. Which the
U.S. high court has specifically
said cannot properly be done. On the merits, Bush should win.
The New York Times
A lightning bolt yesterday from a divided Florida Supreme Court
gave Vice President Al Gore
one last chance to come up with the votes that could make
him president, and once again
threw the election into unfamiliar territory.
But in acting boldly, the court also acted wisely.
The carefully reasoned majority opinion
... affirmed the core principle that must guide the
candidates and the nation in bringing
the election to a fair and legitimate resolution.
Al Gore's presidential hopes are still alive and, more important,
so is the chance to see
whether he or George W. Bush deserves Florida's electoral
Florida's high court ruled for consistency
as well as common sense. Now the focus should
on counting ballots and determining
the will of the voters. ...
This way the nation can believe that the candidates were treated
fairly and that the right
The Washington Post
Our hope from the beginning has been
that the presidential election dispute would end with a
result that as many members as possible
of the losing side would regard as fair. Part of
fairness plainly includes adherence to the law. Yesterday's
decision of the Florida Supreme
Court is in that sense entitled to deference. ...
We nonetheless have grave reservations
about the decision — both its practicality and the
likelihood that in the current circumstances it can produce
an evenhanded result. We believed
Al Gore was entitled to his appeal. But we felt that, with
legitimacy at stake — their own as
well as that of the election outcome —
the courts should intervene in the electoral process
with utmost caution. It is far
from clear to us that in this instance that high standard has
The Bush campaign's decision to appeal, again, to the Supreme
Court was a constructive
The Boston Globe
COUNT THE VOTES. That should have
been the guiding principle in Florida since Nov. 8, but
too often it was lost as legal teams for George W. Bush and
Al Gore pressed contradictory
suits for partisan advantage.
Yesterday, three Florida courts put the
focus back where it belongs: on the side of the
In courageously ordering manual recounts of the undervote statewide,
the Florida Supreme
Court said it had had enough of the
feverish legal maneuvering by lawyers for Bush to leave
out thousands of ballots that had never
been counted manually. ...
The major reason that the recount should
go forward is that it is the best way to give
legitimacy to whoever does win.
Bush's effort to run the clock out is
conduct unbecoming a president.
The Florida Supreme Court has for the
second time in as many weeks decided to rewrite the
law, and in doing so may also be trying
to rewrite history. Down the path the court has
chosen lies delay, chaos and the very real potential for a
constitutional crisis. ...
The Florida court majority seems to have done its utmost, not
merely to throw the election to
Gore, but to trample on the rights of the state's canvassing
In doing so the court has set the stage for untold mischief
and for the actual theft of this
The Kansas City Star
In the wake of Friday's ruling by the Florida Supreme Court
ordering manual recounts of
presidential ballots, there was an explosion of political
charges and counter-charges as well
as a further multiplying of lawsuits, petitions and appeals.
Florida's already overburdened legal system has been held hostage
at virtually every level by
hundreds of lawyers on both sides. ...
Since no one will blink, the legal appeals should go forward.
It didn't have to be like this. The 100
million Americans who could have voted, but didn't even
bother, could have dramatically changed
the outcome on Nov. 7. All sorts of other things
could have occurred, but now we're faced with a contest that
will end. Sometime.
The Times-Picayune of New Orleans
Whatever one thinks of its decision, the Florida Supreme Court's
timing could scarcely have
been worse. ...
In effect, the court ordered something
akin to what a number of observers, including
newspaper, were calling for nearly a
month ago: a hand recount not just in large
counties like Palm Beach and Miami-Dade,
but throughout the state.
But the decision comes just four days before the federal deadline
to name electors ...
The entire case could very well end up before the U.S. Supreme
Court again, and that could
be a blessing. A definitive decision
by that court would likely
strengthen the perceived
legitimacy of the next president, whoever
The Dallas Morning News
Thanks to the interventionist Florida
high court, which continues to write election law from
the bench, the presidential contest
remains a muddle.
Gov. George W. Bush said Friday that he will appeal this verdict,
and well he should. Among
other things, the Florida Supreme Court provided no clear
standard for how to recount votes.
The U.S. Supreme Court should promptly overturn Florida's ruling
for crafting new election
standards a month after the election. ...
Make no mistake here. The Florida Supreme Court sent the White
House contest spinning into
chaos. Even the chief justice of the court disagreed with
his colleagues' ruling. The lack of
certainty within the court should add even further doubt about
the ruling's validity.
Like a desert mirage, the denouement
that many had hoped for to the extended presidential
contest, and perhaps Republican George
W. Bush's hope for a ``clean'' victory without
legislative intervention, evaporated
Friday with a divided ruling by the Florida Supreme Court
ordering manual vote recounting to go forward. ... As with
almost every turn of events in this
national drama, the issues resolved by the court ruling raised
as many murky political and
legal questions as the court answered. And a number of other
legal challenges also cloud the
Bush apparently won — very narrowly
— the Nov. 7 election under the rules that existed in
Florida at the time.
Gore has a right to fairly pursue a contest of that result.
Somebody is going to be hugely disappointed in the end.
The Oregonian of Portland, Ore.
Vice President Al Gore's partisans like to argue that we should
just count the votes in Florida
to see who won. We couldn't agree more, but this decision
(by the Florida Supreme Court)
does not do that. It calls for yet another partial count,
which is likely to become yet another
ingredient in the wider national crisis that is brewing.
Somehow, we doubt Florida legislators
will see the problem (with choosing their own
electors), so the country probably must
look elsewhere for a clear end to this recurring bad
The best hope for that would seem to be the U.S. Supreme Court,
where the Gore case
appears to be headed. The highest court has a clearer case
now than the one it quick-kicked
back to Florida earlier this week.
The Honolulu Advertiser
Now it is George Bush's turn to be statesmanlike.
The best thing both camps can do is step
back and let the process take its course, without
undue drama or excessive hysteria.
In the end, a winner will be found, will take office and will
lead the country for the next four years. ...
The race, by any mathematical definition,
was a tie. The tie will be resolved in a chaotic,
lengthy, difficult and confusing way, but it will be resolved.
A president will be chosen. ...
We will have a president who will serve us all. The ingredient
most needed right now is
The Salt Lake Tribune
The Florida Supreme Court has thrown the presidential election
into chaos, as if it were not
already chaotic enough.
By ordering a hand recount of the undervote
in every Florida county in which such a recount
has not already occurred, that state's
highest court has virtually guaranteed that Florida's
electors will not be determined by Tuesday,
the deadline in federal law. The
Republican-dominated Florida Legislature will surely intervene
on Wednesday ...
In short, the Florida Supreme Court has provided a remedy that
is no remedy at all. It raises
more legal questions than it answers, and it cannot promise
a result that is any more
accurate or fair than the mixture of machine and manual recounts
that already has certified
Bush the winner.
This is no improvement.
Akron Beacon Journal
The Florida Supreme Court has justification for including the
hand count of Palm Beach and
requiring Miami-Dade to renew its hand count of contested
votes. That could be
accomplished in days.
Would that change the outcome? If it didn't, Al Gore should
gracefully give up the fight.
If George W. Bush found himself behind? The Republican majorities
of the Florida legislature
appear ready to enter the fray.
The Bush camp would certainly pursue its legal options, even
to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Republican majorities in Congress would be poised to act,
knowing the Florida governor (yes,
brother Jeb) would have the last say on the state's electors.
Then again, as accurate and
credible a count as possible would carry
its own influence.
The Florida Supreme Court should have
the final word.
The Plain Dealer of Cleveland
A bare majority of the Florida Supreme
Court Friday decided to go boldly where neither man
nor law has gone before. That
majority's use of jurisprudential hyperdrive in search of a new
universe of perfect justice risks hurling
the state's electoral process into a black hole. ...
This recount is almost certainly beyond human endeavor. But
impracticality is of no moment
to the four majority justices. They have determined that the
only fair outcome of an election
held 32 days ago, an election in which all ballots have been
counted twice by machine and
whose results have been certified by the state's elections
officer, will come from their
singularly creative order to probe the electorate's mind.
The Des Moines (Iowa) Register
Vice President Al Gore's battle for an electoral victory in
the state of Florida was taken off life
support by the Florida Supreme Court Friday. Now it is anyone's
guess how this extraordinary
contest for the White House will play out. ...
The nation's long post-election ordeal, in short, is far from
over. However it concludes, it is
not likely to be a pretty sight. That said, however, the
republic will survive even this. All that
is needed is a strong dose of patience
for the courts and the state of Florida to work through
this situation calmly and deliberately
and without shrill and hysterical political demonstrations
from either side.
The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer
Many commentators are describing the rulings handed down by
Florida courts Friday as
victories for either George W. Bush or Al Gore. In fact, the
rulings had this in common: They
said that ballots legitimately cast
should be counted. That
puts the outcome of the election
in the hands of the voters, not the
candidates or the courts — for now, at least.
The commentary following the Supreme Court's decision has been
fascinating. As usual, the
TV all-news channels are full of partisan
commentators who deride the Florida Supreme Court
as partisan because it didn't rule to
suit them. It's interesting to note that the Florida judges
are the only ones involved who have sworn to consider the
facts and uphold the law.
The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C.
The Florida Supreme Court's decision
— courageous even if made by a bare majority
order hand counts of thousands of ballots
that machines couldn't decipher boosts the
chances for a presidential election
result all Americans can trust.
Whether the justices' 4-3 decision will withstand an appeal
to the U.S. Supreme Court is
impossible to say. But until that decision
was announced yesterday afternoon, the country
faced the real prospect of seeing its
43rd president chosen on the basis of a narrowly split
vote total that left out many votes
humans can discern — even if the machines
Denver Rocky Mountain News
The Florida Supreme Court could
have settled the presidential deadlock with finality Friday,
but it did not. Instead, it opted for
Far worse, it virtually ensured an ugly
finish to this election saga, quite possibly in Congress
an ending that guarantees the maximum degree of bitterness,
hostility and political mischief
on the losing side....
The Denver Post
The U.S. Supreme Court cannot, and must
not, sidestep its responsibility to sort out the
raging legal and constitutional maelstrom
into which yesterday's Florida Supreme Court
decision plunged the nation.
The question of who will be the next president of the United
States is rapidly moving toward a constitutional stalemate.
Florida's election system is in complete disarray. The state's
supreme court and the
legislature appear headed for a full-on constitutional collision;
the supreme and circuit courts
are at odds; and the judiciary is second-guessing local election
The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash.
And we thought the final act was at hand. Al Gore would concede,
and America would finally
have a new president. Now we know better than to predict anything
any more about the
unbelievably protracted, confusing and surprising election
of 2000. ...
Will the Florida Supreme Court's split decision stand? Who
knows? The court's majority
obviously took great pains this time
to ground its decision in Florida election law. But
majority's reading of the relevant statutes
seemed strained, especially when it argued that
the new deadline it had set for completing
recounts wasn't really a final deadline. ...
We remain confident that the nation can
withstand the uncertainty and that it will avoid
destructive chaos. But the next
president, whether it be Bush or Gore, may end up ruing the
day he won the prize.