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Gore Campaign Attorney Laurence Tribe Holds Media Availability Following Argument Before U.S. Supreme Court

Aired December 1, 2000 - 11:39 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: Larry Tribe, who argued for Gore, now at the microphones. Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

LAURENCE TRIBE, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: ... that you can't always guess anything about where the justices will come out from exactly what they ask.

I certainly didn't think there were any curveballs, and there was nothing that disturbed the court that we were unaware of, and in that sense it's always a relief to know that the case doesn't have any timebombs in it.

QUESTION: Justices Souter and O'Connor questioned you (inaudible) about the Supreme Court's rulings, apparently more on their own state Supreme Court interpretation. How did you read those questions that they were...

TRIBE: Well, the questions -- there is a rather technical issue; I think it might bore the public a little. There's a technical question of whether it is permissible for a state institution, which is involved in the process of picking presidential electors, to rely on the state's own Constitution, rather than relying on the statutes of the state legislature, which are promulgated under the authority of Article II of the Constitution.

TRIBE: That is, usually the Constitution of the state trumps the legislation. In this area, ironically, it's a little upside down. In this area, because the Constitution says each state shall choose electors in a manner that its legislature designates, it follows from that that if a state court isn't concerned with the manner that the legislature chose, but only with the state Constitution, then that's a problem.

And I think that the response in this case was, that's not what the Florida Supreme Court did. And Justice Ginsburg, near the very end of the argument, asked a question that was pretty telling. Actually, she made a statement to the representative of Governor Bush in his rebuttal. She said, the very concluding paragraph of the opinion relies not on the state's Constitution, but on the very legislation that it's supposed to rely on.

And so a lot of time was taken up on how many angels danced on the head of that particular pin.

QUESTION: Some of the justices seemed uncertain if there was a question for the federal Supreme Court here at all, that the law of Congress may have been there to govern Congress.

TRIBE: Yes.

QUESTION: What is your explanation...

TRIBE: Well, I think that certainly will be their conclusion about the so-called Safe Harbor Law that was passed in 1887, the law that says that if a state provides certain methods of resolving electoral disputes, and if those methods reach a final conclusion by December 12, then that is binding on Congress. I'm quite sure that the court will say that it's Congress to whom that is addressed, and that there is no federal question in this case arising out of that.

TRIBE: Now that's different that from Article II of the Constitution...

SESNO: We want to break in right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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