Nader Florida Ballot Case Update

Amazingly, the Miami Herald doesn't think it merits the front page, but it has an article about Jeb & Co. putting Nader back on the ballot (registration required). The article doesn't add much to the Reuters story.

As the Herald tells it, the state's ruling applies to all ballots not just the foreign absentees, at least in theory, but everyone understands that the courts will have time to rule before it has practical application outside the foreign absentees.

The Herald does not give a definitive answer on the critical timing question: whether a ruling was needed NOW to get the foreign absentees printed in time. The article does quote Miami-Dade election officials as saying the next court hearing would have given them enough time, but also Glenda Hood's claim that other counties have more ballots to print:

A spokesman for Miami-Dade County Elections Supervisor Constance Kaplan said her department is under no time crunch to print the ballots, but Hood said that's not the case in counties with large numbers of military voters who are overseas.

And [Jeb] Bush said that if the court's ruling is ultimately upheld, it's easier for the state to remove Nader's name from the general election ballot, even if it's included on the overseas ballots that federal law requires be postmarked by Saturday.

One thing was certain Monday: Florida's highest court will enter the fray. The Supreme Court said in an order Monday night that the case involves “matters of great public importance.”

The Florida Court of Appeals is set to have a hearing tomorrow. The Florida Supreme Court has not yet set a hearing date. [UPDATE: But it has set an accelerated briefing schedule, see Abstract Appeal for all the juicy details.]

My initial gut feeling is that this action will backfire: courts don't like to have their jurisdiction challenged, so this is like poking a stick in the eye of the Florida Supreme Court.

But here's an alternate hypothesis, one whose plausibility turns on Jeb Bush/Karl Rove being even smarter than I think they probably are: Nader has hired Ken Sukhia, a smart GOP lawyer to represent him. Suppose Sukhia concluded that Nader's case is doomed in the Florida courts as the law and the facts are against him. Could the strategy be to try to goad the Florida courts into some rushed and intemperate ruling which can then be appealed to the friendly US Supreme Court, with the suggestion that those nuts in Florida are at it again? (In fact we have a pretty high-quaility state Supreme Court.)

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8 Responses to Nader Florida Ballot Case Update

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  2. molly bloom says:

    Doesn’t a willful violation of a court order constitute contempt? What are the possible penalites? Is it likely that the plaintiffs will request a contempt of court hearing?

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  5. Yes, a willful violation of a court order constitutes contempt. The possible penalties depend on the nature of the contempt as direct, generally meaning that the contemptuous act is directly witnessed by the judge, or indirect contempt, most likely the applicable form in this case. Then it further depends if you’re talking about criminal or civil contempt, the difference being an intent in the case of criminal contempt to disrupt the administration of justice.

    As most likely in a case of this type you’re talking about indirect civil contempt, the penalties aren’t set to punish, but to purge the contempt and encourage compliance with the Court’s order, and are limited to the necessary actions required to do so.

    However, in the present case, you’re in the interesting circumstance where compliance with the order will be impossible by the time any hearing was held. How do they issue a purge order if the purge is impossible, after all? And on top of that, if compliance, as Bush is already claiming, is impossible, then noncompliance cannot be willful, or contemptuous.

    All in all, y’all need to go to the homepage and check out today’s filings. First and foremost, the case has already been remanded from federal court back to the state based in large part on Glenda Hood’s objection to the removal, and that remand was the reason for the Court’s extension of the deadline set for the filing of briefs in the Supreme Court from today until tomorrow. In addition, the Court has ordered Glenda Hood to comply, by tomorrow morning, with an order requesting information as to absentee ballots, advance absentee ballots, deadlines, and difference…this is because of the Order issued to Hood on Monday requiring some information from her as to the authority for the September 18 ballot deadline in the first place, and her reply, which doesn’t seem to have printing the ballots themselves as even a slight concern…she also admits to knowing no authority by which the deadlines may be changed.

    Oh, and by the way, to all you people arguing that the democrats should’ve challenged bush, as well, based on the late filing of the secretary of state’s certificate of nomination? Well she just filed an even later one today, amended, of course. So is anyone on time?

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  7. Mojo says:

    Chris; That last paragraph is disingenuous. As you probably remember, most people came down against challenging Bush’s filing. More importantly, the justification of those who did favor it had nothing to do with the actions of the Secretary of State, it was the late filing by the GOP itself. (How could any political candidate be held accountable for errors by a state employee?) That filing was late because they pushed their convention back by a full month to put it closer to 9/11 and to take maximum advantage of the limitations on political advertisements within 60 days of an election so they didn’t officially nominate their candidate until very late. Despite the fact that it was their own machinations that got them in trouble, most of us still opposed challenging his certification to the ballot.


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