U.S. Senate Will Be Final Judge in Scott v. Nelson Contest

While the close senate race in Florida is causing each campaign to sharpen their litigation knives, it is important to remember that ultimately it is the United States Senate, not the courts, that has the power to decide the issue.

Article I, Section 5 of the United States Constitution states: “Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members…” This clause has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court to mean that while the candidates can file election lawsuits in state and federal courts, congress has the final say and can conduct its own proceedings, call witnesses etc. to determine the outcome of a congressional election.

Read the Court’s decision in Roudebush v. Hartke (1972) for a discussion of Article I, Section 5 , election lawsuits and the power of the Senate to be the final judge in senate elections.

Thomas D. Shults, Esq.

About Thomas D. Shults, Esq.

Tom Shults is a Florida Bar Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer. He has represented clients in election and sunshine law issues, complex business and commercial disputes and probate and trust suits. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1983 and has maintained an active trial practice in state and federal courts for over 35 years. Mr. Shults successfully represented the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections in Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections et al. v. Browning et al. , where the Florida Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of Sarasota County’s charter election law amendments. Mr. Shults has served on the Professional Ethics Committee of The Florida Bar and is the past Chairman of the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee of The Florida Bar. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Community Service Award of the Sarasota County Bar Association for his work with the Sarasota Mental Health Community Centers. In 2013 he was nominated for circuit court judge by the 12th Circuit Judicial Nominating Committee. Mr. Shults has served on the faculty of the Kessler-Eidson Program for Trial Techniques at Emory University School of Law and on the faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy Program for Practicing Lawyers at Nova Southeastern University School of Law. Mr. Shults grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida and is a graduate of St. Petersburg High School (1973), Florida State University (B.S. 1977) and Washburn University School of Law (J.D. cum laude 1982). He is veteran of the United States Army.
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