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CNN BREAKING NEWS

ACLU Loses Lawsuit to Delay Recall Vote

Aired August 20, 2003 - 15:53   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, a federal court decision has been made and the ACLU is the loser in this case. We've been talking about it all day. The ACLU had claimed that the punch card machines in six counties could result in errors and disadvantage to minority voters in the California recall. They had hoped to delay the October 7 date.
Bob Franken joins us now with the latest on this decision that just came across -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, he -- the judge, Steven V. Wilson, pretty much telegraphed his ruling during the skeptical questions he asked of the plaintiffs, the ACLU, at a hearing earlier this week.

His main problems were two of them. Number one, his belief that before discrimination could be charged, there was proof that it was intentional discrimination. Not something he saw in this particular case. In addition to that, he said if he would rule that the election should be delayed, he would go against the people of California who had expressed their -- quote -- "gross dissatisfaction" with the current state of affairs in the governor's office and that, under California law, they had the right to, in fact, call the election.

So, as I said, the ruling was something that would be expected.

What we can also expect that the American Civil Liberties Union, which will be holding a news conference in awhile, is going to follow up with an appeal. This, of course, is something that is fraught with constitutional questions. The ACLU came in filing under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but also filing under 14th Amendment claims for equal protection. They're going to go now to the appeals court. It's the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is oftentimes known as the most liberal of the appeals courts. It's something that could possibly make its way to the Supreme Court. Of course, there is a time frame here. The election is scheduled for October 7, and as of now, it is still on, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Bob Franken, thank you.

OK -- all right. I'm just getting word -- so, Bob, let me ask you then, does this mean the six counties, then, will definitely use the old methods, these punch card methods? And could we see -- I don't know, I'm having flashbacks of the last election and, you know, hanging chads, dangling chads. I mean, could we -- could this possibly be a problem?

FRANKEN: Well, that's what the ACLU claimed, that you're going to have the same kind of problems they had with these same machines in Florida. The judge, this same judge, ruled that they were going to have to be removed by the March 7 presidential primary and replaced. This just accelerated things.

Now the attorney general's office, arguing for the state of California, made the claim in court that the concerns that there might be a certain number of errors that would disenfranchise some of the voters were purely speculation. And that's an argument that the judge bought into.

PHILLIPS: All right. Our Bob Franken with the latest decision there. Federal court ruling against the ACLU. There will not be a delay in the California recall. They, of course, the ACLU, will appeal, but at this point, October 7 is the date to go forward.

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