THE FLORIDA RECOUNT has started -- again -- thanks to a decision yesterday by the Democratic state Supreme Court that said discarded ballots in 67 counties must now be examined. Meanwhile, the Republican Florida Legislature is poised to bypass the legal wrangling over vote-counting and name its own slate of presidential electors early next week.
You can see where this is headed: a bitter, partisan power struggle between Florida's highest court and its Legislature over the laws of that state.
That's no way to end this important matter, so the U.S. Supreme Court -- which will get this case on appeal -- must give us a definitive ruling on how the Constitution and federal statutes should be interpreted in this close presidential election.
The high court must play the role of ultimate judicial arbiter -- and do so immediately -- even while the recount takes place. Whether those ballots will ever be certified could be up to the nine justices in Washington.
The problem here is that in Florida, both the state Supreme Court and the Legislature claim the right to determine how this presidential balloting is handled.
The court says that the disputed ballots must be counted to make sure the outcome of the election is "determined by the will of the voters" and that its opinion has its foundations in the election code enacted by the Florida Legislature.
The Legislature, acting on its federal constitutional rights to intervene and name electors if the election process isn't resolved by Dec. 12, fears the court's intervention could mean all of Florida's voters will be ignored when the Electoral College convenes Dec. 18.
What's lacking is judicial clarity, from the highest authority -- the U.S. Supreme Court.
Of course, all this may yet wind up before Congress to sort out in January. The Constitution gives that body final say over who will sit in the White House.
But before Congress meets to certify the election, the legal process and the rule of law have to be articulated -- and followed.
The high court must make sure that happens -- soon.