By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated September 15, 2003 10:27 AM

California gubernatorial hopefuls Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cruz Bustamante, incumbent Gray Davis and more than 130 other candidates — including Gary Coleman — were stopped in their tracks Monday after a federal appeals court halted the Oct. 7 recall election, reports CNN.

The dramatic ruling occurred because of concerns about a “hurried, constitutionally infirm” process. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a one-week hiatus in order to allow an appeal on to the United States Supreme Court.

The ruling also comes after the American Civil Liberties Union argued that election officials should be provided additional time to replace many of California’s antiquated voting machines.

Should Monday’s ruling stand in Washington, the recall vote could be moved to March 2004 — the same time as the California presidential primary.

Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bush v. Gore decision that settled the 2000 presidential race, the appeals court ruled Monday: “In assessing the public interest, the balance falls heavily in favor of postponing the election for a few months.”

The court decision was handed down the same day that Schwarzenegger, 56, and his wife, Maria Shriver, appeared together on Oprah Winfrey’s TV show. (Also on Monday, former President Bill Clinton was at Davis’s side, campaigning for the Democratic incumbent.)

Before Republican candidate Schwarzenegger appeared on the air, Winfrey asked Shriver — a member of the Kennedy Democratic dynasty — how she would take the news if her husband were a womanizer.

Replied Shriver: “You know that ticks me off. … I am my own woman. I have not been bred to look the other way. I accept him with all his strengths and all his weaknesses, as he does me.”

Schwarzenegger later discussed with Winfrey the 1977 magazine interview in which he boasted of his sexual exploits. “We really were out there doing crazy things. We were trying to get the attention,” he said. “At that time I didn’t think I was going to run for governor.”