Republican George W. Bush's lawyers urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to bring a "lawful, final and conclusive resolution" of the presidential election, while Democrat Al Gore's legal team dismissed Bush's claims as "insubstantial."
Both sides submitted 50 pages of written arguments ahead of Friday's historic high court hearing over the disputed Florida presidential election, a case which could help determine whether Bush or Gore wins the White House.
Bush's lawyers urged the nation's top court to set aside a ruling that extended Florida's deadline for reporting hand-counted ballots in the state's presidential vote, while Gore's lawyers said the decision should be upheld.
Bush's lawyers said the Florida Supreme Court had no authority under the U.S. Constitution to announce new rules for the presidential election, and that state election officials should be allowed to carry out their duties without interference from the state court.
The decision of the Florida Supreme Court last week extended the deadline for certifying the results from the Nov. 7 election and ordered that hand recounted ballots from several heavily Democratic counties be included in the final tally.
Attorneys for the vice president, led by Harvard University law professor Laurence Tribe, said the Florida Supreme Court acted with its authority under state law in its ruling.
"This dispute over the Florida Supreme Court's interpretation of the Florida election code is a state-law case that, despite its undoubted importance, does not belong in federal court," he said.
"Principles of federalism counsel strongly against interference by this court, or any federal court," in the Florida process for resolving election disputes, he said.
Tribe argued the Florida ruling did not abrogate existing Florida law, and he said the federal claims presented by Bush's lawyers were "insubstantial."
Bush's lawyers repeated their argument that the Florida Supreme Court violated federal law and the Constitution by changing the rules for an election for president after the election has been held.
By just 537 votes, the Texas governor was certified on Sunday as the winner of the state's presidential balloting under the rules set out by the Florida Supreme Court, but Gore has contested the results.
Setting aside the decision would "allow the Electoral College process to reach a lawful, final and conclusive resolution of the presidential election," Bush's lawyers said. Florida's 25 electoral votes represent the decisive margin in this election.
By law, all contests in Florida must be completed by Dec. 12, and Florida then must select its representatives to the Electoral College, which will determine the winner of the election, by Dec. 18.
Because of the state court decision, Florida's electors may very well not be conclusively selected and Florida's voters could be disenfranchised in this election, Bush's lawyers said.