Three words seem to be on the minds of Senate Republicans, looking for a way to get a Norm Coleman victory: “Bush v. Gore.”
This all comes from the case made by the Coleman campaign that Minnesota’s county officials committed a constitutional violation by varying in different ways from the state’s official uniform standards of admitting or rejecting absentee ballots. Indeed, the Coleman legal team alleges that the counties violated the equal protection clause, and that the judges violated the due process clause by imposing strict standards for any additional ballots during the trial.
The Politico reports that NRSC chairman John Cornyn said: “The Supreme Court in 2000 said in Bush v. Gore that there is an equal protection element of making sure there is a uniform standard by which votes are counted or not counted, and I think that’s a very serious concern in this instance.” Other Senate Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, Jeff Sessions and Lindsey Graham, have also spoken approvingly of a Bush v. Gore approach.
This is actually different from the cited issue in Florida in 2000 — which involved a lack of uniform standards to determine voter intent on disputed ballots — because Minnesota law already solved that problem by sending challenged ballots to the state canvassing board for adjudication last December. And on top of that, this issue goes back to Election Day itself, not just the recount. On the other hand, though, it does provide an opening for more litigation.
Another fun thing about the Bush v. Gore ruling is that the majority opinion contains the following: “Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities.” In plain English, the five Supreme Court Justices declared that their ruling was not to be taken as a precedent for interpreting the law in the future. We may well find out just how binding that statement was.