"And isn't that the exact process that is set forth by ... in Texas law for this exact process to take place where there's manual recounts and that those are preferred over the machine recount?" Pariente countered, referring to a law passed during Bush's tenure that allows for manual recounts.
Barry Richard, another GOP lawyer, told the court that it has no authority to interfere in Harris' decisions because she is acting on behalf of the state legislature. And any changes in state election laws should be made by lawmakers, "not in the courts," he asserted.
Before and after the arguments, the sidewalk outside the courthouse provided a forum for political debate, street protests and personal enrichment.
The Burns family drove from Atlanta to express its support for the Texas governor and distaste for the Democratically encouraged recounts. "There's no end in sight until Al Gore comes out on top," said Brent Burns, 44, who owns a software company and was holding a protest sign expressing his "enough is enough" sentiment.
"We drove six hours because we felt it was very important to be here," said Burns' wife, Polly, 44.
Kevin Radigan, 21, a student at Florida State University, had come to the courthouse at the suggestion of a friend who offered to pay him $100 to hold a place in line. "The class I'm missing was personal finance," he said.
Nancy Polk, 50, a graduate student at FSU, was the second person to arrive at the courthouse steps early yesterday. She arrived at 7:15 a.m. because "it's historic." Behind her stood Creston Nelson-Morrill, a 46-year-old writer.
As the hours wore on, the two women chatted. They talked about the disputed election contest, the good looks of a nearby television anchorman and their backgrounds. By midmorning, they learned they had both attended the same high school in Miami.
"I think this is one of those stories I tell my grandchildren - I'll bore them with it," said Nelson-Morrill.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.