Thursday, May 7, 2009

Meanwhile, in Minnesota . . .

Have you lost track of the Minnesota Senate Race? It occurred to me that I haven't thought about it in a while. The reason is that we're all waiting for the Minnesota Supreme Court to act.

Last month, Coleman's request for judicial review of the actions of the state elections apparatus actually led to an increased lead for Franken -- at the close of play he was up by 312 votes. But Coleman kept appealing; now the case is in the Minnesota Supreme Court.

That court has put the case on a leisurely schedule whereby Coleman's brief was due April 30; Franken's will be due May 11; and Coleman's reply will be due May 15. Then we'll all take a couple of weeks to fish and barbecue before oral argument on June 1. Of course there's no date set for the decision.

This is what the court calls an "expedited" schedule. Well, I suppose it is expedited compared to the normal case briefing schedule, under which briefing takes about two and a half months and the parties can wait another six months or so for argument after that. But heavens, this is an important case and the court could have gotten its judicial rear in gear a little faster.

As in most situations in which matters sit in a queue for a long time before action, it's usually possible to process any one matter very quickly if you allow it to jump the queue. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Bush v. Gore on December 9, 2000, ordered briefs filed the next day, heard argument on December 11, and decided the case on December 12.

Bush v. Gore was not the Supreme Court's finest hour, to put it mildly. So I commend the Minnesota Supreme Court for not dashing through the Franken/Coleman case in three days. But that doesn't mean it requires more than 30. A week for each side's brief and then oral argument a week later would have been plenty.

Every day of delay in this case is another day that the people of Minnesota are deprived of half their representation in the Senate. The Minnesota Supreme Court should move more swiftly.

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