From Reuters (via TPM):
MIAMI (Reuters) - Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's name can appear on Florida ballots for the election, despite a court order to the contrary, Florida's elections chief told officials on Monday in a move that could help President Bush in the key swing state.Okay, now, pre-2000 I would say that any court, generally, would hesitate to step in given the "political question" in controversy. Courts used to be reticent to much with elections because there aren't really do-overs and you don't want to keep re-contesting things (bad for public policy, public confidence in legitimacy of their electeds, etc). But now - especially give THIS STATE's sketchy electoral history (recent history involving the same players at that), you'd think there would be cause for a bit more, I dunno, deliberate consideration of these sorts of capricious decisions.
The Florida Democratic Party reacted with outrage, calling the move "blatant partisan maneuvering" by Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's younger brother, and vowed to fight it.
In a memo to Florida's 67 county supervisors of elections, Division of Elections director Dawn Roberts said the uncertainty of Hurricane Ivan, which could hit parts of the state by week's end, forced her to act.
The action came in an ongoing legal battle over whether Nader should be allowed on
the Florida ballot as the Reform Party candidate.
Nader, an independent nominated by the Reform Party, was a presidential candidate in 2000 when Bush won Florida, and the White House, by 537 votes over then-Vice President Al Gore. Analysts said most of the nearly 98,000 votes Nader got in Florida would have gone to Gore had Nader not been on the ballot.
Florida Circuit Court Judge Kevin Davey issued a temporary injunction last week preventing the state from putting Nader on the 2004 ballot, siding with a Democratic challenge that the Reform Party did not qualify as a national party under state law.
A hearing on a permanent injunction is scheduled for Wednesday. But Roberts said
Hurricane Ivan, which is headed for Florida's Gulf coast, had raised "a substantial question as to when such a hearing" will be held.
As a result, she said, Florida's Department of State had filed an appeal against the temporary injunction. The appeal application automatically lifts the injunction, allowing the counties to put Nader's name on overseas absentee ballots, which must be mailed by Saturday.
"I'm in disbelief," said Scott Maddox, chairman of the Florida Democratic Party. "This is blatant partisan maneuvering on the part of Jeb Bush to give his brother a
leg up on election day."
"They are trying to get ballots printed with Nader's name on them," said Maddox. "I am astounded that Jeb Bush is willing to defy the judiciary to help his brother."
Maddox said if Nader drew votes away from any candidate it would be Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. Gov. Bush said he agreed with Roberts' decision.
"It's up to the judge to determine, based on the law, whether Nader should be on the ballot or not," Bush said. "But while that process goes on, we cannot put ourselves in the position where the ministerial role of the supervisors cannot be fulfilled."
Maddox noted that Tallahassee, the state capital where Davey sits, is not expected to be directly hit by the hurricane. He said the circuit court could hear the case as scheduled on Wednesday and rule immediately.
In addition, the case is before the Florida Supreme Court, which could also rule at
any time, he said.
I know there are exceptions for issuing TROs or other emergency injunctive orders ex parte or without adequate notice - under extreme circumstances. But as for allowing a party to ignore an order . . . . the article mentions that the appeals process lifts the issued order - but still - I'm thinking this kinda makes the party with the order feel a little like they just spent a LOT of money on attorneys for no good reason.
You wonder what Florida did to deserve all this foul weather? Hmm, I don't know, but maybe God is a democrat (or just a lover of legitimate election procedure).
(phoblog doesn't really endorse the use of theological arguments as the basis for policy. in fact, that's one of the scariest things about GWB, just like jihadists. as the basis of a joke, however, we're all for it).