Set It Aside
Norm Coleman thinks that we shouldn't argue anymore about who beat who and just try again in the spirit of compromise:
For more than a month, Norm Coleman stressed flaws in Minnesota's election system.
And on Monday, Coleman lawyer Jim Langdon wrote the three-judge panel to suggest the problems are so serious they may not be able to declare a winner.
"Some courts have held that when the number of illegal votes exceeds the margin between the candidates -- and it cannot be determined for which candidate those illegal votes were cast -- the most appropriate remedy is to set aside the election," Langdon wrote in a letter to the court.
Coleman continued this line of reasoning in an interview today, saying that "there is a question whether this court can certify who got the most legally-cast ballots."
This is basically an admission of defeat, as this DSCC spokesman said cleverly today ("I'm sure Senator John McCain would like to throw out the results of November 4, 2008 as well"), but even if it doesn't succeed, it furthers the conservative project. There has been a simmering effort in conservative circles to delegitimize the election process - to characterize any poor or black voter as a potential fraudster, to accuse community groups like ACORN of stealing elections, to cast doubt on the process in general. This serves two purposes - 1) it sets the stage for increasingly draconian voter ID laws that intentionally suppress Democratic votes, and 2) it throws a shroud of suspicion over any Democrat who happens to get elected. Al Franken will never be seen as a legitimate Senator to the majority of the right - despite his going through the regular channels of the recount process, he will be painted as a thief, a usurper, an illegitimate pol who used the activist courts to take away Norm Coleman's rightful place in the Senate.
And that's the other part of this - to question the impartiality of judges and the legal process. The Minnesota Supreme Court made a few rulings during the recount process, but by and large the elections system was allowed to work on its own. But that doesn't matter - if and when the court issues a final ruling, the Coleman camp will not only appeal but blast the legal system for handing the election to Al Franken. The more sinister prospect here is to further the depiction of judges as wild liberal activists who must be stopped. Related to that is Republicans' new demand to the President, signed by every Senator in their ranks, to confirm George Bush's judges or face filibusters:
President Barack Obama should fill vacant spots on the federal bench with former President Bush’s judicial nominees to help avoid another huge fight over the judiciary, all 41 Senate Republicans said Monday.
In a letter to the White House, the Republican senators said Obama would “change the tone in Washington” if he were to renominate Bush nominees like Peter Keisler, Glen Conrad and Paul Diamond. And they requested that Obama respect the Senate’s constitutional role in reviewing judicial nominees by seeking their consultation about potential nominees from their respective states.
“Regretfully, if we are not consulted on, and approve of, a nominee from our states, the Republican Conference will be unable to support moving forward on that nominee,” the letter warns. “And we will act to preserve this principle and the rights of our colleagues if it is not.”
In other words, Republicans are threatening a filibuster of judges if they're not happy.
And thus we see how the conservative movement always moves forward, like a shark. I eagerly await the Republican Senator who says "Obama would rather deny these fine jurists and nominate people like the ones who stole the election for Al Franken in Minnesota." The Coleman lawsuit is really a textbook example of how one issue is used to chip away at multiple other ones. I know that conservatives appear to be imploding at the moment, but under the radar they are always working to undermine American institutions.