Al Franken had a disappointing day in court today. He had hoped to convince the Minnesota Supreme Court that the state had a federal imperative to seat someone in the Senate, and hey, he just happened to be free to fulfill those duties — temporarily, of course. The court said thanks, but no thanks:
The Minnesota Supreme Court today ruled that Al Franken was not entitled to be certified winner of the U.S. Senate election pending the outcome of a trial challenging his 225-vote recount lead.
The court said state law says a certificate of election cannot be issued until the state courts have finally decided an election. The court also said federal law did not require states to certify senators by the time a new term begins in January. Moreover, it said the U.S. Senate could always seat Franken even without a certification.
As we noted yesterday, the last suggestion by the court won’t happen soon. Harry Reid doesn’t need the headache that an open war with Republicans in the upper chamber would cause, especially since Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe seem perfectly happy to fill Franken’s role on tough votes. Otherwise, the court followed both the law and common sense. While Minnesota would prefer to have two Senators in DC for the entire session, no one is entitled to fill that role until the election contest plays itself all the way out.
Meanwhile, more mundane legal dramas continued with the election contest panel. Franken filed a motion for dismissal, saying that Norm Coleman’s team only proved that nine absentee ballots of the thousands left in limbo should be opened, which if true would make the contest moot. Coleman countered that by not only claiming that more than 1700 met the standards established by the panel, but requested that the panel deduct previously-counted ballots that did not meet those standards — and which counted for Franken.
Joe Freidberg also filed a motion regarding the duplicate-ballot issue, bring that back to the table. He presented evidence that the Minneapolis precincts mishandled them, showing ten where the total votes exceeded the number of registrants voting on Election Day. That will certainly have to get resolved in one way or another, but how? Team Coleman estimates that as many as 133 votes for Franken should get removed, which is one of their expectations going into the contest.
Either way, Franken will be in Minneapolis to see how it turns out. The court didn’t give him his entitlement.