Florida Supreme Court Hears Both Sides in Election Case

Judges to decide whether recounts by hand are valid

The future of the presidential election now lies in the hands of the seven members of the Florida Supreme Court. As recounts continued, the court held hearings yesterday afternoon to determine whether manual recounts should be included in the final tally.

The court has said it will not issue a ruling before today.

Republicans believe that the court should enforce state law, which says that manual recounts be completed within seven days of the election. Democrats are petitioning the court to extend the deadline due to extraordinary circumstances and the fact that the counties began recounting a full six days after the election, effectively making it impossible for large counties to certify their ballots by the deadline.

The court set the stage for yesterday's hearing last week when it ruled that Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris could not certify the official tallies until it had ruled on the matter of the manual recount.

Justices grilled both sides, frequently interrupting lawyers arguments to ask questions.

According to the Associated Press, Democratic advisors have privately commented that they were pleased with the justices' questions and that recounts could continue for now. The Associated Press also reported that Republican advisors had articulated concerns about what they perceived as a tough line of questioning.

In the brief they submitted to the court over the weekend, Republican lawyers included plans for a possible emergency appeal to the Supreme Court.

Yet the likelihood that the U.S. Supreme Court would review the Florida decision is somewhere between "nil" and "remote," New York University law professor Stephen Gillers suggested to the Associated Press.