immediate release -- November 29, 2000.
Contact Bob Brammer, 515-281-6699
of the Iowa Attorney General's Office on the amicus brief filed with the
U.S. Supreme Court in
the Presidential election case
Iowa joined with thirteen
other states in filing an amicus or "friend
of the court" brief yesterday with the
U.S. Supreme Court in the presidential election case. States that
joined in the brief are IA, CA, CT, HI, IN, ME, MD, MA, MT, NV, NM, OK,
OR, and RI.
Purpose and motivation
of the brief: The States said the brief was filed because they have a
strong interest in preserving the rights of the individual states to control
their own election laws, including election of presidential electors.
The States "want to ensure that the state judiciaries remain free
to interpret state laws governing elections, without interference by the
federal courts, as they have done for nearly 200 years," the brief
The States believe
that if the Supreme Court holds that the Florida court's act of interpreting
state law was instead "changing" the law retroactively, it could
have far-reaching consequences, "opening the door to a flood"
of litigation whenever courts adopted a new interpretation of a statute
or answered a question of statutory interpretation for the first time
in any realm.
The brief also said
the States believe the U.S. Supreme Court "can take a significant
step toward healing the nation from the divisiveness that has resulted
from the presidential election and in giving credibility to the final
result of this election - whatever that might be."
Argument of the brief:
The States argue that "fundamental questions of federalism"are
at stake -- the division of powers between the states and the federal
government. "No power of the states is more clearly recognized in
the Constitution than the power to control elections -- particularly with
regard to the appointment of electors for President," the brief says.
State legislatures enact statutes governing their elections, and state
courts "traditionally have been charged with the responsibility of
interpreting state law," the brief says. "For nearly 200 years,
this [Supreme] Court has deferred to state courts on questions regarding
the meaning of state laws," the brief says.
"Nearly two centuries
of precedent and time-honored principles of federalism mandate that the
Florida Supreme Court's interpretation of Florida law be considered final,"
the brief argues. "It would be highly offensive to basic principles
of federalism for this court to superimpose its judgment on the Florida
Supreme Court or to disagree or change the interpretation of state law
rendered by that court. Indeed, such action by this Court would be a remarkable
intrusion into the province of the state judiciary."
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