What Do the Supremes Mean When They Say "De Novo"?

What Do the Supremes Mean When They Say "De Novo"?

What Do the Supremes Mean When They Say "De Novo"?

Answers to your questions about the news.
Dec. 11 2000 5:41 PM

What Do the Supremes Mean When They Say "De Novo"?

Or when they say "sub silentio" or all that other legalese that came up at Monday's Supreme Court hearing, Bush v. Gore?

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De novo

Justice John Paul Stevens said to Gore attorney David Boies, "Because the Supreme Court opinion on the one hand said ... that there was to be de novo review by the circuit judge in Leon County, but on the other hand it said that he had to accept the counts that had come out of Palm Beach and Broward counties." [Clarification 12/12/00: There is some dispute as to whether Justice Stevens said "de novo" or not. See this Explainer for the full story.]

Latin for: from (the) new. In legal terms it means to allow independent appellate determination of issues, or to allow a retrial because of new evidence.

Sub silentio

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This is a favorite phrase of George W. Bush lawyer Theodore Olson. He told Justice Stevens, "... under no circumstances is it consistent with the concept of the plan in the Constitution for the ... state legislature sub silentio, to turn over to the judiciary the power to completely reverse, revise and change the Election code ..."

Latin for: under or in silence. In legal terms it means without making a particular point of the matter in question. In other words, a bit of legal throat-clearing.

Remand

Justice David Souter said to Olson, "If this were remanded to the Leon County Circuit Court, and the judge of that court addressed the secretary of state ..."

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Middle French for: to order back; Late Latin for: to send back. In legal terms here it means to return a case or matter from one court to another, usually a lower court.

Equal Protection clause and Due Process clause

In answer to a question from Souter on whether it would be unconstitutional for the Leon County judge to accept recounts from various counties done under different standards, Boies replied, "I do not believe that that would violate the equal protection and due process clause."

The equal protection clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the states from denying to anyone in its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws. The due process clause in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments prohibits the government from depriving a person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

The legal explanations were taken from the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, which can be found at www.findlaw.com.