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Election 2000

CNNís Roger Cossack on the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling

December 4, 2000
7:35 p.m. EST

Roger Cossack's Photo
Roger Cossack  
(CNN) Ė On Monday, December 4, the U.S. Supreme Court set aside a Florida Supreme Court ruling allowing selective manual recounting to continue after a November 14 deadline and sent the case back to Florida's high court for clarification.

Legal analyst Roger Cossack is co-host of CNN's daily award-winning half-hour legal show, Burden Of Proof. He is regularly called upon by CNN to explain the major legal matters of the day, most recently the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida. Cossack is a contributing editor for the online Law Center, located at, providing Web-exclusive biweekly columns and online news interviews, which can be found at

Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, Roger Cossack, and welcome.

Roger Cossack: Hello!

Chat Moderator: In light of Judge Saulsí ruling, what are the likely scenarios we could face over the next few days?

"The Seminole County case could eventually become the case of importance. We're not hearing more of it because it has not yet made its way into the hearing stage in court. It is hard to say how that case will shake out."
— Roger Cossack

Roger Cossack: Well, obviously there will be an appeal by the Gore side, the Supreme Court will ask for expedited briefs from the lawyers, then I would expect there would be a hearing by Thursday or Friday, and a decision from the Florida Supreme Court soon thereafter.

Chat Moderator: What must Gore prove in the Florida Supreme Court to overturn the Leon County ruling?

Roger Cossack: He has a tough way to go. He must show that either Judge Sauls misinterpreted the law in setting the standards that he required Vice President Gore to exceed, or that his interpretation of the evidence was so incorrect that it was an abuse of discretion to come to the conclusions that he did. Both of these standards are extremely difficult to meet.

Question from Tdogg: Roger, don't you think the U.S. Supreme Court told the Florida Supreme Court that they were wrong, but out of respect they would give them a chance to fix it?

Roger Cossack: No, I think that the U.S. Supreme Court may be split and is looking for more definition from the Florida Supreme Court in order to come to a decision that would be as close to unanimous as possible.

Question from MtStHelen: What does the Florida Supreme Court need to provide to the U.S. Supreme Court to try and prove the validity of their decision?

From: Express your Opinion: Presidential race 2000

Roger Cossack: They have to provide the U.S. Supreme Court with clarity -- their reasoning for coming to the decisions that they did. Was it based upon the Florida Constitution? Was it based upon a federal statute? Or was it based upon an interpretation of Florida law?

Question from Muskie99: Mr. Cossack, how much weight does the lawsuit in Seminole County have, and why are we not hearing more of it?

Roger Cossack: The Seminole County case could eventually become the case of importance. We're not hearing more of it because it has not yet made its way into the hearing stage in court. It is hard to say how that case will shake out.

Chat Moderator: How will these rulings affect the intent of the Florida Legislature to call a special session?

Roger Cossack: Well, it's difficult to say why they wish to do that. If their reason was to ensure that George W. Bush got the 25 electoral votes, then after today, they may not feel that they need to do it anymore. If, on the other hand, they felt that it was necessary as a matter of statement or policy, then they may still intend to go through with it. I would think that after today's ruling, we won't hear much from the Florida Legislature.

Chat Moderator: Do you have any final thoughts to share with us?

Roger Cossack: I think that we are seeing the end of this contest with today's decision by Judge Sauls. It will be very difficult for Vice President Gore to prevail in front of the Supreme Court; therefore, he will be about out of legal challenges, and the end may be in sight.

Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us today.

Roger Cossack: Goodbye, audience!

Roger Cossack joined the Crossfire Chat via telephone from Washington, D.C. provided a typist for Mr. Cossack. The above is an edited transcript of that chat, which took place on Monday, December 4, 2000.

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U.S. Supreme Court remands presidential election case to Florida's highest court
December 4, 2000
Tony Clark monitors the Bush camp
December 4, 2000
Mark Potter on Gore's court challenge
December 2, 2000

CNN's Election 2000
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