TORONTO - An unprecedented showdown between scandal-riven Mayor Rob Ford and city council could be destined for the courts after councillors voted Friday to neuter his powers, but the legal process could yet thwart their efforts.

Unable to oust him from office, council instead overwhelmingly passed two motions — with a third to come Monday — that would all but reduce Ford's role to ribbon cutting.

A much subdued Ford, in contrast to his previously combative style, said he was left with no choice but to turn to the courts.

"This is going to be precedent setting," Ford said in a shaky voice during one of the debates.

"If we move ahead with this, then obviously if someone else steps out of line like I have, this is going to affect councillors and the mayor for years to come."

However, Ford's lawyer told The Canadian Press after Friday's votes he had received no instructions to actually start litigation but would do so if instructed.

However, George Rust-D'Eye did offer some clarification as to the grounds on which the mayor could mount a court challenge.

Council could not act on "speculation or irrelevant allegations" and its motions could be seen "as an attempt to punish (Ford) for alleged personal conduct, or as a symbolic statement of council's intent to be doing something in response to it," Rust-D'eye said.

"There is no evidence before the council suggesting that the mayor has failed to exercise or abused his powers, or been unwilling or unable to fulfil them."

Unbowed councillors, who have expressed increasing distress at Ford's follies, voted to strip Ford of his ability to appoint key committee chairs or to exercise emergency powers. The motions were immediately adopted as bylaws.

"Councillors had their say today," Ford told reporters. "Taxpayers are going to have their say on Oct. 27 (2014)."

The third motion, to be debated on Monday, would see his office and budget essentially moved to the control of the deputy mayor.

John Mascarin, a municipal law expert, said Ford faced an uphill battle if the matter does end up in court even if Rust-D'Eye has raised a few arguable points.

"Council clearly has the authority to do what it has done," Mascarin said.

"The city's case is very clear."

Any case to quash the bylaws — likely on the grounds council acted illegally or in bad faith — would be heard before Ontario Superior Court. Ford would also probably seek an injunction to put the bylaws on hold pending the outcome of the case, which could take many months.

Coun. John Filion said he was "extremely careful" with the wording of the motions, and said he was confident what council did was legal.

"Ironically, the mayor who had sort of divided everybody geographically and ideologically has now brought everybody together," Filion said.

A dissenting vote came from Coun. David Shiner, who questioned council's action.

"It's unfortunate council has taken away the authority of the electorate to respond and to allow the person who was elected to maintain his responsibilities or decide that he should be out of office," Shiner said.

Ford has stubbornly refused to take a leave or resign since reports of a video surfaced in May showing him apparently smoking crack cocaine.

During a subsequent investigation, former staffers told police of his guzzling alcohol while driving, lewd and bizarre behaviour, and his consorting with suspected sex-workers.

Ford's grip on his position took another serious body blow on Thursday when he made a crude sexual comment on live TV.

He initially refused to apologize, then, as his wife who seldom appears in public stood uncomfortably nearby, said he was sorry.

The mayor's frat-house vulgarity drew wide condemnation from councillors, who literally turned their backs when he spoke during Thursday's various debates.

Councillors Friday condemned the crack-smoking, binge-drinking, foul-mouthed mayor for his behaviour.

Ford's conduct, which has garnered attention around the world, has spoken volumes and his public support has largely turned away, especially over the last few days, Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said.

"We need to protect the staff and we need to take away his power for the good of the city," Minnan-Wong said.

Ford's criminal lawyer Dennis Morris said council's actions against a "wounded" mayor were purely political.

"They're usurping his powers. It's like a palace coup," Morris said, adding his client was working out and drinking protein shakes.

Ford has said he's been receiving unspecified support from a team of health-care professionals.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said council would have to make it clear it could not function as a result of the Ford scandal before she would consider action.

Also on HuffPost:

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  • Lisi Meets Ford At Soccer Game

    On June 26, 2013, police were using plane and ground surveillance to follow Alexander Lisi. They tracked him to a kids' soccer game, where he met Ford and then dropped off a white plastic bag in the mayor's Escalade.

  • The Esso Meet

    On July 11, 2013, police obtained the CCTV footage from a gas station near Ford's home. The screengrabs from the footage show Ford entering the Esso and heading for the bathroom.

  • The Esso Meet

    Shortly afterwards, Lisi enters the gas station and is seen holding a manila envelope. After buying some drinks and chips, he leaves the gas station and walks along the passenger side of Ford's parked Escalade and out of frame.

  • Dry Cleaning?

    On July 16, 2013, police cameras watch as Lisi drops off a bag at Richview Cleaners. The documents note that a source has told police that "Lisi will deliver marihuana to the cleaners in bags or wrapped up in clothing."

  • Nighttime Visit

    On July 23, 2013, police cameras watch as Ford arrives at Lisi's home at 9:30pm. At 11:10pm, Lisi walks him back to his car and the mayor drives off.

  • Parking Lot Meeting

    On July 28, 2013, aerial surveillance cameras capture images of Lisi meeting with Ford in a school parking lot. Lisi gets into the mayor's car with a white plastic bag.

  • You're On Candid Camera

    Police documents show the mayor "walks to the treed area (where Lisi's vehicle is parked), urinates then returns to the driver's seat of the Escalade".

  • Garbage Pick-Up

    On Aug. 13, 2013, police watched as Lisi and Ford met in suburban Weston Wood Park, and stayed there for about an hour. After they left, police picked up a vodka bottle and a juice bottle.

  • Another Meeting

    On Aug. 14, 2013, CCTV cameras at a Petro Canada show Lisi meeting up with an unknown man and appearing to pass him something at the gas station pumps.

  • UP NEXT: Rob Ford Shoves Photographers

  • City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, right, pushes members of the media off his property as he leaves his home in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013.

  • City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, right, pushes members of the media off his property as he leaves his home in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013.

  • City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, right, reacts to the media to get off his property as he leaves his home in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013.

  • City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, right, reacts to the media to get off his property as he leaves his home in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013.

  • City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reacts to the media to get off his property as he leaves his home in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013.

  • City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves his home in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013.

  • Mayor Rob Ford talks to media at City Hall in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Ford says he has no reason to step down despite police confirmation that they have seized a video media have alleged appears to show him smoking crack cocaine.

  • Mayor Rob Ford talks to media at City Hall in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Ford says he has no reason to step down despite police confirmation that they have seized a video media have alleged appears to show him smoking crack cocaine.

  • Toronto Police Service released documents Thursday morning, Oct. 31, 2013 that show police surveillance photos of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (left) and Alexander Lisi, Ford's friend and occasional driver.

  • Toronto Police Service released documents Thursday morning, Oct. 31, 2013 that show police surveillance photos of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (left) and Alexander Lisi, Ford's friend and occasional driver.

  • City of Toronto police chief Bill Blair speaks to the media in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 regarding a recovered video file involving Mayor Rob Ford.

  • UP NEXT: The Best Photos From The Rob Ford Crack Scandal

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at a press conference at City Hall in response to possible provincial funding cuts to the city.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves after making an appearance at the raising of the Rainbow flag to kick off Pride Week festivities on the Podium roof at City Hall.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford takes in the Argo game in the stands at Varsity Stadium Toronto, June 20, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford takes in the Argo game in the stands at Varsity Stadium on June 20, 2013.

  • Mayor Rob Ford shares a laugh with General Richard Rohmer, left, and Chief Paul Raftis during speeches as Toronto Emergency Medical Services (EMS) celebrated the graduation of 40 new paramedics at EMS headquarters. Ford later ducked the media by leaving through a secured exit.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford steps off an art installation of the rooster bust at Nathan Phillips Square. The rooster is the Mayor's birth sign under the Chinese Zodiac. The Mayor unveiled 12 bronze animal heads by renown Chinese artists Ai Weiwei presented by AGO. The 12 sculptures are animal heads depicting the Chinese Zodiac.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford touches the nose of a new rat at City Hall. The Mayor unveiled 12 bronze animal heads by renown Chinese artists Ai Weiwei presented by AGO. The 12 sculptures are animal heads depicting the Chinese Zodiac.

  • A police officer from Toronto Police Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force picks up an assault rifle as police display guns seized during a series of raids for operation "Project Traveller" at a news conference in Toronto on Friday, June 14, 2013. Police say a violent gang which was terrorizing a northwest Toronto neighborhood has been dismantled following a series of raids targeting suspected drug and gun traffickers. One of the raids targeted an apartment complex where an alleged video appearing to show Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine was reported to be located. Police haven't said if Ford was in any way part of their year-long investigation.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford answers questions about the three new staffers he has hired at a news conference at city hall in Toronto on Friday, May 31, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford whistles as he walks to a meeting at city hall in Toronto on Thursday, May 30, 2013. More staffers are leaving the Toronto mayor's office as controversy swirls about a video that purportedly shows Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford emerges from his office holding slices of a birthday cake to offer to members of the media at city hall in Toronto on Tuesday May 28, 2013. The mayor is celebrating his 44th birthday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attends an Executive Committee meeting at city hall in Toronto on Tuesday, May 28, 2013. This is Ford's first meeting with his executive committee since allegations of Ford's videotaped drug use surfaced earlier this month. Ford has denied the drug-use allegations, making a statement late last week after six members of his executive committee urged him to publicly address the allegations following a week of mostly silence on the issue. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford sits during a City council meeting at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday May 21, 2013. Ford ignored a crush of reporters waiting outside his city hall office this morning in the hopes he would address allegations that he was recorded on video appearing to smoke crack cocaine. (AP Photo/THE CANADIAN PRESS,Nathan Denette)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrives at City Hall in Toronto amid allegations of crack cocaine use on Friday May 17, 2013, in Toronto. Published reports say a video appears to show Ford smoking crack cocaine. Ford called the allegations ridiculous. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves his home on Friday, May 17, 2013, after published reports said a video appears to show Ford smoking crack cocaine. A report published Thursday night said the video is being shopped around by a group of men allegedly involved in the drug trade. The Toronto Star said, however, it had no way to verify the video. Ford called the allegations ridiculous. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • Mayor Rob Ford in Council Chambers talking to councillors about seniors and housing. Earlier today Toronto Police launched massive predawn raid, as part of Project Traveller, targeting guns and drugs, and focusing on the Toronto neighbourhood thats ground zero for the Mayor Rob Ford crack video scandal. (Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Mayor Rob Ford in Council Chambers talking to councillors about seniors and housing. Earlier today Toronto Police launched massive predawn raid, as part of Project Traveller, targeting guns and drugs, and focusing on the Toronto neighbourhood thats ground zero for the Mayor Rob Ford crack video scandal. (Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Mayor Rob Ford in Council Chambers talking to councillors about seniors and housing. Earlier today Toronto Police launched massive predawn raid, as part of Project Traveller, targeting guns and drugs, and focusing on the Toronto neighbourhood thats ground zero for the Mayor Rob Ford crack video scandal. (Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • As city council debates whether or not the University of Toronto back campus field should have a heritage designation and be prevented from being converted to an artificial turf field for the Pan Am games, Rob Ford, Earl Provost and Doug Ford have an animated discussion on top of the Podium roof at City Hall. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video at this house smoking crack cocaine. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • As city council debates whether or not the University of Toronto back campus field should have a heritage designation and be prevented from being converted to an artificial turf field for the Pan Am games, Rob Ford, Earl Provost and Doug Ford have an animated discussion on top of the Podium roof at City Hall. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video at this house smoking crack cocaine. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Mayor Rob Ford looks over Ontario Minor Football League standings while council breezes through a series of minor motions before the University of Toronto back campus field debate resumes at City Hall. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford looks at his tie during a city hall meeting. Today It was made public that Toronto City Councillor Jaye Robinson was fired from the mayor's executive committee. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video smoking crack cocaine. Robinson publicly urged Ford to take a leave of absence to deal with the scandal. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Eugene Jones Jr., President and CEO of Toronto Community Housing, hold a press conference to discuss the ombudsman report on community housing at Old City Hall. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Elena Johnson, 51, a resident at 15 Windsor Road, where Mayor Rob Ford was photographed with murder victim Anthony Smith and another shooting victim. The house is notorious for drug problems, according to people living in the area. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video at this house smoking crack cocaine. (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Reporters keep a watchful eye on the house which is all quiet.The house at 15 Windsor Road in Etobicoke where Mayor Rob Ford was allegedly photographed in relation to crack use is seen the morning after the Star published the address. June 6, 2013. (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tours the Dufferin Street bridge just south of Springhurst Avenue. The Mayor addressed the media about the closing of the bridge on June 12 due to safety concerns. It will be closed to traffic to allow for repairs. The bridge will still be open to pedestrians and cyclist. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video smoking crack cocaine and making offensive remarks (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • A man identified by friends and neighbours as Fabio Basso, a resident of 15 Windsor Road, in Etobicoke, the address where a photo showing Mayor Rob Ford with two shooting victims was taken. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video in front of this house smoking crack cocaine and making offensive remarks. (Toronto Star Archives/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • A woman identified by friends and neighbours as Elena Basso, a resident of 15 Windsor Road, in Etobicoke, the address where a photo showing Mayor Rob Ford with two shooting victims was taken. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video in front of this house smoking crack cocaine and making offensive remarks. (Toronto Star Archives/Toronto Star via Getty Images)