Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release -- November 29, 2000.
Contact Bob Brammer, 515-281-6699

Statement 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 stated.

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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