Any Day Now

I understand that the wheels of justice grind slowly, but for the love of everything holy could the delicate and genteel members of the Minnesota court please get off their asses and issue a ruling in the Coleman/Franken case? It has now been almost a month since they heard the case, and the state and the citizens of the state have been without adequate representation in the Senate for seven months.

It is a damned disgrace, and the only reason I can think of that this ruling is taking so long to make is the supreme arrogance of these judges. I can’t find any legitimate reason from any news sight explaining why they have not ruled yet, so I’m sticking with my hypothesis- arrogance. Just issue a damned ruling so we can get on with the Republicans next level of obstruction.

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46 replies
  1. 1
    jwb says:

    I would say either they are divided, or, more likely, they want to close off as many options as possible for Coleman to appeal to Federal court.

  2. 2
    The Saff says:

    You know, Bill Maher keeps making Norm Coleman jokes and his audiences don’t seem to understand them. Last week, he said he’s going to keep making Norm jokes until everybody gets it.

    Honestly, I don’t even live in Minnesota and this delay is driving me batty.

  3. 3
    HyperIon says:

    I was wondering just this morning what was going on in Minnesota. So thanks for bringing this up.

    Arrogance is not a Minnesota value though so I don’t like your hypothesis.

    Maybe somebody local can weigh in….

  4. 4
    bvac says:

    “The truth is, this election was rigged [by ACORN] and the people in Iran Minnesota are trying to speak out, and we need to help them,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said amid deep shock and anger in Washington at the deadly post-election turmoil.

    Fixed.

    This is why I don’t want politicians meddling in foreign elections.

  5. 5
    demimondian says:

    Thoroughness. There is a lot of evidence to review — it was a multi-week trial, remember — and the justices need to *get it right*. If a situation arises where Franken’s presence will actually make a difference — say, a filibuster that will succeed without him and fail with him — then the Senate can act.

    The justices don’t need to do so — and they are right to not act precipitously.

  6. 6
    Bootlegger says:

    Surely, at some point, the Democrats, representing the good people of Minnesota of course, can go to SCOTUS and say the people of Minnesota are being denied their constitutional number of senators. At the very least they could make it politically costly for Pawlenty and bleed him a little before he starts his run for the White House.

  7. 7
    gex says:

    @HyperIon: Arrogance was not a Minnesota value – in the past anyhow. Once we started really going nuts on electing Republicans locally, it’s gone downhill since then. This court is very conservative.

    I was among those who originally bought in to the explanation that things were being done deliberately and cautiously to avoid grounds for an appeal that would really stretch this thing out.

    But since I’ve seen articles by lawyers who support Coleman say there’s no case here, that Coleman has lost, I can’t see what the hold up is. On strictly legal matters, I’ve seen conservative supporters of Coleman agree that there is no case. The only support I see for Coleman’s case is people who make spurious legal claims but really appear to be advancing them as a tactic for mucking up the Senate.

    If Franken’s side thinks Coleman has no case, and Coleman’s side thinks Coleman has no case, what is the Supreme Court thinking?

  8. 8
    cleek says:

    what is the Supreme Court thinking?

    they’re thinking Arby’s!

  9. 9
    Dork says:

    and cautiously to avoid grounds for an appeal that would really stretch this thing out.

    I dont believe it matters whether there’s actual legal “grounds for an appeal”. There just has to be an appeal….a legal filing of such, for any reason drempt up. It all gives Pawlenty the cover he needs to say “Look, this hasn’t exhausted its appeals, so I aint signing”.

  10. 10
    CJ says:

    Can I suggest that courts NEVER act quickly and that the expectations of having the Coleman/Franken decision handed down within a month were and remain unreasonable? It would be nice and all, but this is a court we are talking about.

    I seriously doubt that the “delay” is a function of the court’s arrogance. The court has more than one case pending at a time and this one is likely commanding more thought and negotiation than is normal.

    Take this as an opportunity to improve your Vulcan mind control techniques.

    CJ

  11. 11
    Rook says:

    Actually, I think the ruling is being crafted to such an exact manner as to assure it will not be seen by the United States Supreme Court.

    Also, if you want a post that explains the chances of Norm actually going beyond this point, read Eric Black

  12. 12
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Surely, at some point, the Democrats, representing the good people of Minnesota of course, can go to SCOTUS and say the people of Minnesota are being denied their constitutional number of senators.


    You’re joking, right?

  13. 13
    REN says:

    There was some question whether this ruling would also contain an order to Pawlenty to certify. I’m taking a guess that this is the only part of this ruling that is holding up the process to this degree.

  14. 14
    Aaron says:

    Yeah, the two points that immediately come to mind in this thread are:

    1. Michelle Bachmann

    and

    2. Bush vs Gore.

    Regarding point one there is clearly something a little off about Minnesota. Regarding point two, courts can move quickly on electoral disputes when they want to.

  15. 15
    Death By Mosquito Truck says:

    This sorta underscores what most of us already knew: Minnesota just doesn’t fucking matter.

  16. 16

    … and the state and the citizens of the state have been without adequate representation in the Senate for [six years and] seven months.

    Fixed. I don’t consider Norm Coleman adequate representation. Elected and filling a seat, yes. Adequate, no.

  17. 17
    cervantes says:

    While it does seem to be taking too long, they have to make sure their ruling is absolutely bulletproof. Remember that the Repubs are making noises about going to the Supremes, and we know what happened in 2000 . . .

  18. 18
    JPK says:

    I wish Al Franken could personally sue Norm Coleman for all this. Or there were grounds for MN citizens to file a class-action. Or something.

  19. 19
    patrick says:

    … or, more likely, they want to close off as many options as possible for Coleman to appeal to Federal court.

    this is my guess, taking their time to write an opinion that doesn’t really allow any federal appeal.

  20. 20
    Robin G. says:

    Being surprisingly closely in the loop on this (which I can’t elaborate on), I’ve got to add to the voices saying it’s a quest for thoroughness. Not only is there the “cross every T” part of protecting the decision from being overturned on appeal (not that that will necessarily stop Coleman from filing), there’s the part where they have to decide what to do about Pawlenty. It’s possible for the court to order Pawlenty to sign the damn certificate, but it’s also a fairly complicated maneuver, and if they’re going to do that they’re going to need to do it in a way that leaves him absolutely no wiggle room.

    I must say, I don’t believe that the court being largely conservative is weighing on the delay, I really don’t. This is just the way things happen up here. A long, cold winter drives away anyone with a tendency towards impatience.

  21. 21
    The Other Steve says:

    Minnesotans are a patient lot, and the fact is nobody really likes either Franken or Coleman so we don’t care too much. That being said, I think Coleman is liked less certainly at this point.

    They’ll rule shortly. I suspect they’re working out the language to make sure it is clear and to help the future. The legislature has to address some issues with absentee ballots and whatnot. The court can probably provide guidance there.

    But you hold elections with the laws you have, not the laws you wish you had.

  22. 22
    The Other Steve says:

    @Robin G.: Have to concur. The judiciary here in Minnesota is generally quite fair as we haven’t really had it politicized like much of the rest of the country. There has been some attempts, but they’ve been largely rejected up to this point.

    If Coleman was hoping for some good old conservative judicial activism, he’ll be disappointed.

  23. 23
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @The Other Steve: Really? Speak for yourself. This Minnesotan definitely DOES care who is seated. Franken. FREE AL FRANKEN! I actually think he’ll be a good senator, unlike Fangs Coleman.

    Still, I have to lean towards the MN Supreme Court being as thorough as possible. I have no basis for saying that, however. It’s just a hunch.

    Whatever. I am beyond being pissed about this, so let me know when it’s resolved.

  24. 24
    Existenz says:

    This delay is ridiculous. The court had what, two months to look at evidence before this trial even happened, and now it’s been a month since oral arguments? Trust me, the clerks on that court could have an opinion drafted in two days if need be. Hell, Bush v Gore was heard and decided in 4-5 days.

    Everything was going smooth in MN until the damn MN Supreme Court took charge back in January. It really is a disgrace.

  25. 25
    maya says:

    This could explain the MN SC delay.

  26. 26
    EAB says:

    I’d guess that they do not want to find for Franken so they are they are running down the clock. Consider who has to make the ruling (4 of 7 appointed by Pawlenty):

    Magnuson Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, appointed by Governor Pawlenty.

    G. Barry Anderson is currently an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, sworn into office in 2004 by Governor Tim Pawlenty.

    Lorie Skjerven Gildea an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, taking office in 2006. Appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty.

    Dietzen joined the Minnesota Supreme Court in January 2008, appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty.
    In 2001 and 2004, Dietzen contributed $250 to Norm Coleman’s campaign.

  27. 27
    Mr Furious says:

    Is the long game for Norm Coleman that if he appeals long enough some Circuit Court on Mars might rule in his favor and force a new race? But after being a fucking sore loser for nine months and keeping his state from having representation does he really think he’d actually do better the next time ’round?

  28. 28
    Paul Weimer says:

    @maya
    The Fishing Opener up here is practically a state holiday.

    In general, though, while I would like to have a second senator sometime before his term is up, I suspect the answer is, as said above: thoroughness. The Minn SC is trying to be absolutely, positively, Minnesota-nice fair.

    Unfortunately, too, the Franken-Coleman mess has taken a sideline to Gov. Pawlenty’s unallotment budget antics, which are a more pressing concern.

  29. 29
    Phoebe says:

    Someone’s holding out for a bigger bribe, making the same point that moptop from Chicago made about the plum he held in his hand being worth so very much.
    I can’t even remember that clown’s name, and I blame it on the death and life of Michael Jackson.

  30. 30
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @Existenz: No, the court couldn’t look at it during the two months prior to the trial. And sure a clerk could have knocked something out in a few hours – but I assure you that would have fallen swiftly to a higher court’s hearing.

    As noted above, part of the issue is that this isn’t just Franken v Coleman. Sotomayor was right in that every higher court must consider not only the case itself but the precedence it sets – policy must be considered. Of all the idiocies in the Bush v Gore SCOTUS decision, the one that ranks highest is the “can’t use this as precedence” statement. That was the line that convinced most people who study this kind of thing that the court knew what they were doing was wrong but wanted the result anyway.

    The desired end result is something that can be used by every Minnesota state court from here on out to make rubber stamp decisions in comparable cases – so that the SCOMN never has to hear one like it again. “Been there, done that, here’s the decision. Next case.”

    As a bonus, they need it crafted well enough that the federal appeals and supreme court decide there’s no reason to take the case – no cause to grant cert. That means every detail locked using state and federal law and precedence.

    I have no doubt the majority was done within a couple of days – heck, it may have been done by a clerk in a few hours. It’s those painful details that are continuing the effort. Don’t forget the court is hearing and considering other cases as well.

    Yeah, I think it’s getting long in the tooth. Still, I figure we’ll be hearing pretty soon – within the next week or two. Just my guess, of course.

  31. 31
    Robin G. says:

    @Existenz: I wish people wouldn’t use Bush v. Gore as a reference point on this, in that that case should NEVER have been decided so quickly. The only reason the turnaround was so fast was because the justices had already made up their minds, full stop. The Franken/Coleman thing, frustrating though it is, is by far the more shining example of both electoral and judicial fairness than the atrocity of Florida 2000.

  32. 32
    Death By Mosquito Truck says:

    @maya: Yeah, it’s becoming pretty clear how Minnesota works, or doesn’t. Ayuh, we’ll get that bridge maintenance done one of these days..

  33. 33
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @RobinG

    The reason why Bush v. Gore is brought up is not to impugn the Minnesota court, but to point out why it is absolutely essential that whatever they hand down is airtight, given the US Supreme Court’s demonstrated proclivity towards deciding elections.

    They have the heads of the Florida Supreme Court on pikes before them, so to speak, as a minatory example.

  34. 34
    dmbeaster says:

    Having some experience with appellate practice in California and having followed this thing fairly closely, I would guess that this is about thoroughness.

    It is not an easy appeal to conclude even if the ultimate decision is not that doubtful. The amount of material they have to digest, and the number of issues they have to review, are large. Appellate courts typically have much more time to resolve something with this much detail, although they should be giving this top priority and using all of their resources to expedite it. Perhaps that is the reason for the “slowness” — they have not been efficient with expediting the work.

    Also, the Coleman trial case and appeal were a mess, and oddly that sometimes makes the work harder for the appellate court. A clear and precise presentation is sometimes easier to address than one this is sloppy and all-over-the-place.

    There are a few novel issues that may also be troubling the court. For example, unlike votes cast at the polling place, absentee ballots are subject to a strict scrutiny, and are tossed if not in strict compliance. The intent of the voter standard, which applies for votes in person, does not apply to absentee ballots. That is settled law, but the job of Supreme Courts is to re-examine precedent if there seems to be a good reason for doing so.

  35. 35
    JK says:

    John,

    “Any Day Now” – Nice to see you work in a reference to Minnesota native Bob Dylan. Unfortunately, Minnesota voters, unlike the Dylan song, shall not be released any day now. This baby is going all the way to the US Supreme Court. If the US Supreme Court rules in Al Franken’s favor Republicans will devise another roadblock – the Supreme Court of Narnia, Middle Earth’s Council of Elrond, the Supreme Court of Hogwarts, the United Federation of Planets, etc.

  36. 36
    Robin G. says:

    @Davis X Machina: Existenz was saying that Bush v. Gore only took 4 days, so it’s absurd that Franken/Coleman is taking longer. My objection is to that. I have no problem with citing Bush v. Gore in *defense* of the length of time the MNSC is taking.

  37. 37
    drillfork says:

    I’m a Minnesotan, and to be honest, I wish they’d just held another election. I’ll take any and every opportunity to vote against that douchenozzle Coleman…

  38. 38
    aschup says:

    @EAB: This kind of guilt-by-appointing-party crap pisses me off when conservatives do it, and it’s no better when liberals do it.

    The court has by all accounts been fair and thorough throughout this entire process. If you’re going to accuse someone of partisan hackery, the least you could do is come up with some evidence.

  39. 39
    icedfire says:

    As a few people have mentioned above, I’m pretty sure this is about closing the loopholes.

    When the election commission was moving slower than uphill molasses earlier this year, I’ll admit that I started champing at the bit again…until they delivered a unanimous, airtight decision.

    It is possible that there is some heel-dragging by one or more of the justices (after all, one did donate to Chiclets), but after the commission did so well I’m willing to be lenient. After all, we Minnesotans have a reputation to uphold.

  40. 40
    Nellcote says:

    Does Franken’s 6 year term start when he actually takes office?

  41. 41

    Ayuh, we’ll get that bridge maintenance done one of these days.

    We’re not exactly the only state who has let maintenance go; we’re just the one where a big bridge collapsed. Of course, the replacement was done four months ahead of schedule, barely more than ayear after the collapse, and a couple of million bucks under budget.

  42. 42
    Pooh says:

    As a former worker bee who used to actually write such things (ie, a law clerk), I can confirm that these things take a while to write even if you know what you are going to rule, and especially in a case this high profile, you want to be extra careful. Unless you want a crap rush job coughbushvgorecough.

  43. 43
    Joey Giraud says:

    Ya sure you betcha, Al Frankin will be a pretty good senator, unlike that stinky bit dof lutefisk, Norm Coleman.

    But yust a minute: “Bush v. Gore only took 4 days, so it’s absurd that Franken/Coleman is taking longer.”

    Vell, that Bush and Gore case wasn’t really judged now, vas it? It vas more like pre-judged! So of course it vas qvick!

  44. 44
    SFAW says:

    We’re not exactly the only state who has let maintenance go; we’re just the one where a big bridge collapsed.

    Good point. Sorry for not remembering “Well, everyone else does it, too!” is always a valid excuse. My kids also thank you.

    Of course, the replacement was done four months ahead of schedule, barely more than a year after the collapse, and a couple of million bucks under budget.

    Yeah, I heard Bill Wagner was so impressed, that he’s offered to give back the $1 Mil he got.

    I hope you will forgive me for being singularly unimpressed by MN’s post-mortem alacrity.

  45. 45
    West of the Cascades says:

    Issuing an appellate opinion in most state supreme courts is a three to six month process; in the US Supreme Court it normally takes two to five months; in the US courts of appeals, it can sometimes take nine to twelve months. I’ve argued appeals that took from 6 weeks (US court of appeals) to 14 months (Utah Supreme Court) to get a decision. When I worked as a law clerk for a judge on a US court of appeals, one decision that involved extensive contention among the three judges on the panel took 11 months to finalize — the average was about 2 or 3 months.

    As important as this decision is, and as many potential legal issues that it raises that could affect a federal court appeal or collateral attack, it makes absolute sense to me that the justices are taking their time to get as thorough a decision as possible.

    Consider also the possibility that there may be several additional opinions besides the majority opinion — the court could split different ways on different issues, and you may have all five justices writing separate opinions (the majority – or plurality – opinion, the concurrences, the dissents). If this is happening, even if there is a majority agreement on the basic issue that “Franken got more votes than Coleman,” it could easily take several more weeks to sort out the different views on the equal protection claims and some of the ancillary issues about the procedures that were followed, which are important for the court to get “right” and issue clear decisions on for FUTURE Minnesota elections. So there’s a lot more going on here, a LOT more, than “judicial arrogance.”

    Also, to the conspiracy theorist who says that the seven members of the court are “running down the clock,” you should remember that two of the Pawlenty appointees (Chief Justice Magnuson and Associate Justice Anderson) are recused from deciding this case, because they served on the State Canvassing Board). So the decision — when it comes down — will be made by only FIVE justices, of whom only two are Pawlenty appointees.

  46. 46

    The MN-Supreme Court heard oral arguments on June 1st and that afternoon they met and decided the case … now the painfully long process of writing the opinion(s). The five Justices (as West of the Cascades stated two Justices recused themselves) are more concerned about their function of interpreting the law then with who gets seated. Supreme Court Justice Alan Page on two occasions has made it clear that the US Senate is the ultimate decider of who is seated … in fact that was the basis of his first question to the Franken legal team during oral arguments.

    By the way, the rumor is that the opinion is unanimous thus the additional time that it is taking should only re-enforce Franken’s court case win.

    All that stated, Coleman has no political elective future, so he may find it easier to get donations through his “consulting” job to fund legal challenges in Federal Courts … and with the pending health care and climate change legislation, I suspect that there will be plenty of parties interested in keeping Franken out of the Senate.

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