The Al Franken Decade
It took almost a decade for this recount to resolve itself, but the Minnesota Supreme Court rendered their verdict in the Franken-Coleman Senate case, and it's a sweep for Franken, as expected.
In the Matter of the Contest of the General Election held on November 4, 2008, for the purpose of electing a United States Senator from the State of Minnesota, Cullen Sheehan and Norm Coleman, contestants, Appellants vs. Al Franken, contestee, Respondent.
1. Appellants did not establish that, by requiring proof that statutory absentee voting standards were satisfied before counting a rejected absentee ballot, the trial court's decision constituted a post-election change in standards that violates substantive due process.
2. Appellants did not prove that either the trial court or local election officials violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.
3. The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it excluded additional evidence.
4. Inspection of ballots under Minn. Stat. § 209.06 (2008) is available only on a showing that the requesting party cannot properly be prepared for trial without an inspection. Because appellants made no such showing here, the trial court did not err in denying inspection.
5. The trial court did not err when it included in the final election tally the election day returns of a precinct in which some ballots were lost before the manual recount.
And here's the money quote:
For all of the foregoing reasons, we affirm the decision of the trial court 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.
Tim Pawlenty has said all along that he would certify the winner of the election if the Minnesota Supreme Court told him to do so. They have now told him. But all along he gave himself an out, that he would certify it as long as another court didn't tell him to stop pending another appeal. Coleman could proceed to the federal courts at this point, and national Republicans have been happy to bankroll him on that fruitless quest and keep Al Franken out of the Senate as long as possible. Also, Senate Republicans could actually filibuster Franken's entry into the Senate, even with a signed certificate. I'm skeptical that this will move so smoothly from here.
More from Eric Kleefeld.
...Here's the head-of-a-pin dance that Pawlenty could spin:
The bottom line is that the Court says that Franken is entitled to an election certificate, but there is no direct order to the state's governor to sign one. We'll see what the governor does, if Coleman does not concede, as he well may at this point. If not, the opinion is not final until the period for rehearing ends (see the final footnote of the opinion). That's a ten day period, enough time to file an emergency stay application in the U.S. Supreme Court. It would go to Justice Alito, now circuit justice for the Eighth Circuit.