Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 13, 2009
By: Hilzoy

Hang It Up, Norm

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

"After a trial spanning nearly three months, Norm Coleman's attempt to reverse Al Franken's lead in the recount of the U.S. Senate election was soundly rejected today by a three-judge panel that dismissed the Republican's lawsuit.

The judges swept away Coleman's argument that the election and its aftermath were fraught with systemic errors that made the results invalid.

"The overwhelming weight of the evidence indicates that the Nov. 4, 2008, election was conducted fairly, impartially and accurately," the panel said in its unanimous decision.

In rejecting Coleman's arguments, the panel said the Republican essentially asked it to ignore Minnesota election requirements and adopt a more lenient standard allowing illegal absentee ballots to be counted."

The court's decision is here (pdf). Coleman's lawyers have announced that he will appeal this decision to the State Supreme Court. Rick Hasen thinks that Coleman is not likely to win that appeal; certainly, Franken's margin is now sufficient to withstand losses on some of Coleman's most promising points (e.g., the 132 missing ballots from Minneapolis 3-1.) But neither that fact nor the fact that Coleman has been ordered to pay court costs will necessarily determine what happens next:

"While some election law experts say it's unlikely that Coleman, a Republican, could win in federal court, his party might have much to gain. A federal challenge could leave a Minnesota U.S. Senate seat vacant for another six months or more, depriving Democrats of a vote needed to pass some of President Obama's agenda in the event of GOP filibusters.

The success of such a "scorched-earth" strategy, as one political scientist dubs a federal appeal, depends heavily on the definition of state courts."

Norm Coleman has a legal right to appeal this case. But that doesn't mean that exercising that right is the right thing to do. At some point, when the chances of winning get sufficiently remote, a person who cared about his state would think: I am depriving my state of its normal complement of Congressional representatives. In so doing, I am harming my state, and I am doing so in order to prolong a lawsuit that I am very unlikely to win. It's time to hang it up.

In my judgment, we've reached that point. Five months is long enough.

Hilzoy 10:37 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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"a person who cared about his state"

Remind me again - which political party was it that enthroned selfishness and greed?

Posted by: Zandru on April 13, 2009 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

But you forget....this is no longer a MN election....in the eyes of the GOP this is a national matter and they truly believe that the best use of the situation is to drag it out as long as possible. The party will likely pour a LOT of money into whatever it takes to try and drag this out.

What is going to be interesting to see is whether the Dems in the Senate seek to seat Franken sooner rather than later. I think they ought to and force the GOP's hand. It will leave the minority party bathed in a harsh spotlight of trying to block a Senate election if they manage to stop it and if they don't they'll probably go right to court to try and overturn such action, again looking more and more like the party of no!

Now let me ask again....what does the GOP stand FOR?

Posted by: dweb on April 13, 2009 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Is Franken going to get a full 6 years in the Senate, or will his term end in January 2015?

Posted by: Tree on April 13, 2009 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Has anybody been polling Minnesotans to see what they think Coleman should do?

I would think that public opinion would turn strongly against him at this point should he appeal beyond the State Supreme Court.

Posted by: mfw13 on April 13, 2009 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Norm Coleman has a legal right to appeal this case. But that doesn't mean that exercising that right is the right thing to do.

anyone considering a republican "doing the right thing", doing anything for anyone or anything other than themselves, hasn't been paying attention or learned anything about republicans going back 40 years. Name one republican ever "doing the right thing" in the last 40 years - can't be done, because such an instance doesn't exist.

Posted by: zoot on April 13, 2009 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Remember when republicans were so awestruck by democracy that they would launch ill-advised wars in an attempt to bring them about? Having gotten their clocks cleaned in the last 2 election cycles, repubs don't seem so impressed with democracy anymore.

And do you remember when repubs thought the greatest threat to our own democracy was the frivolous lawsuit? Apparantly, they still believe in it's awesome power.

Posted by: JoeW on April 13, 2009 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

Name one republican ever "doing the right thing" in the last 40 years - can't be done, because such an instance doesn't exist.

Howard Baker, 1973 - "What did the President know and when did the president know it?"

Posted by: Arachnae on April 13, 2009 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

You assume Coleman gives a shit about his constituents or the state of Minnesota. He only cares about Coleman and the GOP will use him to delay Franken being seated.

Coleman has no integrity and if he continues on this path of obstruction, he will never hold an elected office again plus be treated as self centered, self serving hypocrite.. Either way he's toast and is only increasing the scorn MN voters have for him already.

Posted by: bjobotts on April 13, 2009 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

That Howard Baker example just clocks in under the 40 year mark.

Posted by: Virginia on April 13, 2009 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

Further documenting the hypocrisy of their slogan "Country First" when it is really "Party First" on all occasions. Too selfish to see the damage they do their image by these tactics.

Posted by: bjobotts on April 14, 2009 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

Howard Baker, 1973 - "What did the President know and when did the president know it?"

People persist in believing Baker was going after Nixon when he asked John Dean that question. He wasn't. He was putting the onus on Dean to pinpoint the time that the president entered into the conspiracy, knowing full well that Dean couldn't do it without evidence. The tapes held that evidence, but no one knew about them yet. Nixon was outraged by Baker's question, because he too didn't understand Baker's motivation.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on April 14, 2009 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

If Coleman's obstructionism continues after Franken wins with the Minnesota supreme court then Franken should immediately go to the U.S. supreme court.

Posted by: Ross Best on April 14, 2009 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

Even if he does choose to make a Federal appeal, there's no legal reason, why Franken's seating should be held up, while that Federal appeal goes forward. Democrats should draw a line in the sand, and fight really loud against any kind of Federal injunction against seating a U.S. Senator. Such a Federal injunction would be arguably unConstitutional, and that argument should be made very loudly and aggressively.

Posted by: Bruce Wilder on April 14, 2009 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

Nobody remembers how Al Gore stood aside so graciously for the good of the nation? Coleman is real scum.

Posted by: Daro on April 14, 2009 at 4:51 AM | PERMALINK
a person who cared about his state would think: I am depriving my state of its normal complement of Congressional representatives.
To play devil's advocate here (almost literally): If you think that the Democrats, as instantiated in Al Franken, are the party of the anti-Christ, then you'd also believe that having no representation is better for MN than having Franken as a representative.

It makes a sick kind of sense.

Posted by: Bernard HP Gilroy on April 14, 2009 at 5:27 AM | PERMALINK

What worries me is that even after the Coleman farce comes to a long overdue end, the Republicans will see this court challenge as a template for curtailing the terms of future successful Democratic candidates who win by a small margin. The slim margin here gives the Coleman las suit a fig leaf of credibility, but he could be forcing the exact same exercise even if Franken was significantly more ahead in the vote count.

As it becomes clear that litigation can hold up the seating of Democratic Senators (and Congressmen for that matter) I will not be surprised to see a flurry of Coleman suits after the 2010 election that will prevent the seating of a full congress well into 2011.

Posted by: NickNayme on April 14, 2009 at 5:56 AM | PERMALINK

At least in Minnesota they have a claim to "no taxation without [full] representation!"

Posted by: Joel on April 14, 2009 at 6:27 AM | PERMALINK

Norm Coleman cares about only one Minnesotan - himself. That is self-evident truth.

Posted by: Greytdog Δ on April 14, 2009 at 6:57 AM | PERMALINK

The "Federalist" Society should change its name. Republicans are federalists only when it suits their purposes.

Posted by: clb72 on April 14, 2009 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

I want to know when the citizens of Minnesota (and even those that voted for Coleman) start telling Coleman to his face to just give it up. I refuse to believe that all Coleman supporters are supportive to this. There has to be more than just a few Coleman voters who just wish Coleman would stop. Heck for purely selfish and partisan reasons, there has to be people in the Minnesota GOP that think that this is doing massive damage to the state party and that for the sake of the party if nothing else, that stopping the nonsense is the best way to go.

Posted by: ET on April 14, 2009 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

i agree with nicknayme-this is the equivalent of requiring every senate vote to overcome a filibuster. the r's may be shitheads, but they are great tacticians! the national dems need to eviscerate this form of election gamesmanship like yesterday!!! what is the matter with harry reid??????

Posted by: sue on April 14, 2009 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

What a butt hole: Coleman. Why would anyone ever vote for such a poor loser? We can hope they'll never get another chance. Minnesota deserves better than this jerk.

The new senator is ready to go and he thinks Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot. Me too.

Posted by: anonymous on April 14, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

I would imagine that Franken will (once again) petition the MN Supreme Court to direct Pawlenty and Ritchie (MN Gov. and SoS) to issue an election certificate to Franken. He made that petition during the recount trial and the Supreme Court refused. But perhaps now that the recount judges have issued an opinion, the MN Supreme Court might be willing to grant Franken's request this time around.

In which case, Coleman can waste as much time and money as he likes with his frivolous appeals, but at least he's no longer depriving the state of full representation in Congress.

And to echo what others have said, of course a person who cared about his state and his constituents would concede at this point --- and so it logically follows that of course Coleman has no intention of doing so. Norm is, and always has been, all about Norm.

Posted by: David Bailey on April 14, 2009 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

>"this is no longer a MN election...in the eyes of the GOP this is a national"

If he appeals, the DNC should launch a full-press national add campaign. Juxtapose Colemans hypocritical remarks with his actions... and make sure 'Republican Branding' is featured in the background.

In short, hang this stinking albatross around their necks.

Posted by: Buford on April 14, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Conservative Republicans: "Do as we say, not as we do." It might as well be the movement's battle cry.

Posted by: Lee on April 14, 2009 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Coleman is a piece of work. He obviously cares very little about the people of Minnesota. He is all about winning at any cost.

Posted by: Bruce on April 14, 2009 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

If this Minnesotan ran into Norm Coleman on the streets, I would certainly tell him to give up so I can have my full senatorial representation. Yes, I am a Democrat, but I would do the same to Al Franken if the situation was reversed. Three months with only one senator is far long enough.

However, let's look at something rarely mentioned outside of progressive blogs. Norm Coleman is under investigation for taking bribes (in effect). If he concedes now, that will be the whole focus on Norm and for Norm. I think in addition to being a party hack, Norm is trying to delay having to deal with his legal issues.

He is pretty much toast in MN regardless of how this turns out (and there is very little chance in hell that he will overturn the judgment), so what does he personally have to lose by contesting the decision?

Right now, as much as I loathe Norm Coleman and his weird teeth, most of my opprobrium is directed towards Tim Pawlenty. If he doesn't sign the certificate (and he was hemming and hawing on Rachel's show about it), then he is even worse than Norm.

Posted by: asiangrrlMN on April 14, 2009 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

This piece has been featured at THEWEEK.com as Best Opinion

Posted by: Harold on April 14, 2009 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK



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