US Election: The Legal Battles; State and Federal Courts Wrangle over Harris's Right to Call a Halt
Gumbel, Andrew, The Independent (London, England)
THE BATTLE for the US presidency continued to rage in the courts yesterday. Here is a rundown of the main legal challenges stemming from the contested vote in Florida, on which the result of the presidential election now hinges:
t The fight over the validity of manual recounts. Katherine Harris, Florida's Secretary of State, said on Wednesday she would not include manual recounts in her tally of state votes. This could affect the outcome in three Democrat- leaning counties - Broward and Palm Beach, which have begun recounts, and Miami-Dade, which was waiting for the legal dust to settle.
Yesterday, Judge Terry Lewis of the Leon County circuit court in Tallahassee upheld Ms Harris's right to exercise her discretion. The Democrats appealed to Florida state supreme court, which had upheld the right of counties to conduct manual recounts. The question is whether those recounts will count.
Earlier this week, the Bush campaign petitioned a federal district court in Florida to call a halt to the manual recounts, arguing they are subject to the whims of individual counties. The district court rejected the petition, and the case moved up to the 11th US circuit court of appeals in Atlanta.
That same court was yesterday considering a group of legal manoeuvres, including a request by the Republicans to issue an immediate order halting the hand counts. …