Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 30, 2009

MINNESOTA SUPREME COURT: FRANKEN WON.... In a unanimous ruling issued this afternoon, the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected former Sen. Norm Coleman's argument and agreed that Al Franken won the Senate race held last November.

The courts finds that "Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled under Minn. Stat. 204C.40 (2008) to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota." This means that when Franken is ultimately seated, the Democrats will have 60 seats and be able to beat any Republican filibuster if they stay completely united (though good luck with that, obviously.)

It's been seven and a half months since Election Day, and five and a half months since the seat went vacant after Coleman's term expired -- but the state's process of recounts and litigation is now over, barring the unlikely event of a higher authority stepping in and forcing them to do more. Franken has won by 312 votes, out of roughly 2.9 million -- a difference of 0.011%.

The full ruling is online here.

The unanimous ruling obviously resolves one big question, but we still don't know exactly what will happen next. As we discussed yesterday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said he would certify Franken's victory if instructed to do so. The state Supreme Court, however, said Franken is "entitled ... to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator," which Pawlenty may very well try to weasel out of.

Coleman, for that matter, now has to decide whether to keep filing more lawsuits, taking his case to the federal courts after having lost repeatedly in the state courts. He'll likely be encouraged to do just that by the RNC and NRSC, regardless of the will of the voters or the impact on Minnesotans.

And speaking of Minnesotans, recent polling shows the vast majority of the state expecting Coleman to go away if he lost at the state Supreme Court. In the wake of this unanimous ruling, the demands for him to end this will likely be overwhelming. Whether he cares or not remains to be seen.

Should Coleman do the right thing, the impact on Capitol Hill will be significant, with Franken becoming the Democratic Senate caucus' 60th member.

Steve Benen 2:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (35)

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"former senator norm coleman"

such sweet music to my ears...

Posted by: ahoy polloi on June 30, 2009 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone know how much money the two sides are spending to keep this dance going?

I'd be curious if it's a more significant drain on GOP coffers.

Perhaps Franken has been doing the Democrats more good in the courts than in the Capitol.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on June 30, 2009 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

This will continue to drag on.

Posted by: Obama / Steelers / etc on June 30, 2009 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Awesome !!!!

Pawlenty has clearly state he will certify unless there is a federal stay. So I suspect there are a group of lawyers making that happen as I type. It's not done, but the ruling seems to give Reid the ability to seat they man, but Reid hasn't exactly been a shining star. And Pawlenty has his eye on the White House so Minnesotans aren't a big concern for him.

What makes anyone think Coleman is making these decisions. If he has future political aspirations, and he does, the GOP is calling the shots because they have the $$$$$ he will need to make a run for governor.

Posted by: ScottW on June 30, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

It's not over. Pawlenty knows the RNC would be very unhappy if he signed the certificate before Coleman had a chance to get the Federal appeal wheels turning.

The GOP base seems like nothing more than a small, lock-step special interest group today. To win them over for 2012 means kowtowing 100%.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on June 30, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Will Coleman join Beck and the other TeaBaggers on the 4th of July to show their patriotism? Now that the courts have ruled he lost, it is time to attack the democratic process since it yielded a 60 seat majority in the Senate.

Today's conservative crowd believes patriotism is defined as all things anti-Obama, and anti-democrat! When will the likes of Beck go away so we can begin moving away from the authoritarian leanings of such loonyloos?

Until Americans begin to pull the plug on Beck and his ilk, our democracy will suffer endlessly! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on June 30, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Toweary- They had it on last night - the RNC has spent 1 million on Coleman.
and Steve said "Should Coleman do the right thing" Yah and the sun shal be rising in the west tomorrow morning.

Posted by: john r on June 30, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Time to strongarm the Republicans and seat Franken. Just dare them to filibuster against the will of the people and judgement of the courts.

Posted by: danimal on June 30, 2009 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt we'll see too much impact on Capitol Hill. There are too many "Blue Dog" Democrats who cannot be depended on to vote party line.

Posted by: PaulB on June 30, 2009 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

>"Should Coleman do the right thing,"

ROFL. SMTN. LOL.

Posted by: Buford on June 30, 2009 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Between this, Spector, the Georgia election, and the general collapse of both Republicans and the economy, what a weird way to get to 60.

Posted by: N.Wells on June 30, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Should Coleman do the right thing

When did this become a comedy site? I haven't laughed that hard since McSame made fun of himself on SNL.

Posted by: eadie on June 30, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Note to republicans: Proceed at your peril. Unlike Florida, there was no issue of widespread faulty voting mechanism, voter blocking or politicized court decisions. If you keep going, you will be seen by many as disrespectful of process and a lacking principle.

Posted by: Danp on June 30, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Does Pawlenty really want to run for president as a former governor who is detested by his own former constituents? Seems to me there are two sides of the coin for him to consider--I don't think he's got a chance anyway if he runs as another wingnut who's only concerned with appeasing the base. There's already several candidates who would beat him with that crowd.
He might as well take his chances running as a common sense conservative, he could be the only one.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on June 30, 2009 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and if the Minnesota SC didn't order Pawlenty to sign the certificate, then they really blew it. They should have just eliminated any doubt or prima donna behavior by Pawlenty and ordered it.
Now we're left hoping he does the right thing.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on June 30, 2009 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

A bold Senate leader would have already seated Franken pro temp; a timid Senate leader would seat him tomorrow pro temp; a weak, fearful 'leader' will sit on their hands and do nothing until there is no other option.

Posted by: doubtful on June 30, 2009 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

So much material here to work with:

Norm should move back to Jersey and run for the senate. Or Governor. I'm sure the RNC would pony up the bucks in either case.

Has anyone seen Franken's birth certificate? He looks too young to be a senator, and has a Canadian face to boot.

Poll question (for Republican'ts only) Should Gov. Pawlenty use the national guard to seize Franken and ship him to Costa Rica?

Posted by: DAY on June 30, 2009 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Does Pawlenty really want to run for president as a former governor who is detested by his own former constituents?

Huh? We don't understand the question.

Posted by: Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford on June 30, 2009 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Does Pawlenty really want to run for president as a former governor who is detested by his own former constituents?"

Well it worked so well for Romney. Wait, didn't it?

Posted by: gex on June 30, 2009 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Look for Limbaugh and the like to discuss the Minnesota court's 3-2 ruling....

Posted by: victory on June 30, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think there's too much doubt about it- this ruling will be appealed.

Sigh. Can't really complain about it- it's his right to appeal, and his right to waste his[RNC's] money.

Posted by: KilgoreTrout XL on June 30, 2009 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

From now on when we call the Congress a "bunch of clowns", we'll have to note that only one of them really ever was.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on June 30, 2009 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

The Senate is the judge of its own members' qualifications. Reid no longer has any excuse not to seat Franken regardless of the Republicans' partisan actions.

Speaking of partisan Republicans, irony alert: Mattew R Marler talks about clowns.

Posted by: Gregory on June 30, 2009 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Norm conceded.

Posted by: mjm on June 30, 2009 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Coleman has conceded!

Posted by: Andre on June 30, 2009 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

He can't concede. I'll tell him when to concede, the RINO bastard.

Posted by: Mitch McConnelll on June 30, 2009 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK
From now on when we call the Congress a "bunch of clowns", we'll have to note that only one of them really ever was.
True enough, but fortunately he's been defeated by incoming Sen. Franken !!!

Posted by: G.Kerby on June 30, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

That'd be Senator Al Franken to you, Republicans.

Though, I will give props to Coleman for conceding and dropping the charade. I wonder if that move was to give cover to Pawlenty, who unlike Coleman has a political future to worry about.

Posted by: Gregory on June 30, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

YAYYY! This is great, esp since comedians seem to be the only public figures who are allowed to tell the truth.

Posted by: John Henry on June 30, 2009 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

It's over: Coleman Caved.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/06/30/franken.ruling/index.html

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on June 30, 2009 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

So Stuart Smalley is in the Senate, huh?

Never underestimate the bitterness of an unfunny comedian.

Posted by: Kevin Nealon on June 30, 2009 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

So Stuart Smalley is in the Senate, huh?

Clearly, he's good enough, he's smart enough, and, doggone it, the voters of Minnesota like him.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on June 30, 2009 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

the RNC has spent 1 million on Coleman.

I, for one, have no problem with that. The more money the RNC pisses away in doomed causes the better it is for Democrats in competitive elections.

Posted by: Gregory on June 30, 2009 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

God bless America, this is great news.

I am very happy for Senator Franken.... Did you hear that? Senator Franken.

It kind of rolls off your tongue doesn't it.

Posted by: Chris R on June 30, 2009 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Great job Al... Now get to work.

Posted by: Ronk on June 30, 2009 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK
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