Election 2000: Supreme Contest

Florida's justices made a stunning challenge to their federal brethren. What gave them the nerve?

If you were within earshot of a television early last week, you heard the consensus of the legal pundits. Florida's Supreme Court was running scared. It had been slapped down by the U.S. Supreme Court Monday and told to rethink its decision ordering manual recounts. And the experts were fixated on the fact that at oral argument last Thursday, Chief Justice Charles T. Wells asked whether his court even had a right to hear the case. The Florida justices, conventional wisdom held, were looking for a way to bow out gracefully from a showdown with the U.S. Supreme Court.

But the...

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