June 1st, 2009
06:20 PM ET
5 years ago

Minnesota high court grills Coleman, Franken lawyers

Lawyers for both Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken were grilled by the Minnesota state supreme court Monday.
Lawyers for both Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken were grilled by the Minnesota state supreme court Monday.

(CNN) – Lawyers for both Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken were grilled by the Minnesota state supreme court Monday, in a crucial hearing in the nearly seven month long post-election Senate seat battle between the candidates.

The justices on the state's highest court heard arguments on whether problems counting absentee ballots justify the reversal of a lower state court ruling that declared Franken, the former comedian and progressive radio talk show host, the winner by 312 votes over Coleman, the freshman senator whose term expired at the beginning of the year.

The court focused on claims by the Coleman camp that flaws in the counting over votes are serious enough to prevent Franken from winning the Senate seat. Coleman's asking for some 4,000 rejected absentee ballots to be counted.

The court has two options. They can confirm the lower court ruling that declared Franken the winner, or they can order more ballots to be counted, as Coleman argues. A ruling in favor of Coleman won't put him back in the Senate seat he used to hold, but it would extend his battle.

There's no indication when the justices will rule, but their decision may not bring an end to one of the nation's longest-running election disputes in decades. Even if the court rules against him, Coleman could take his case to the federal courts, or even petition the U.S. Supreme Court.

A Franken victory could persuade the state's governor, a Republican, and the state's secretary of state, a Democrat, to sign a certificate of election, which would allow Franken to take office.

Coleman was ahead after election day on November 4, but he led Franken by just over 200 votes out of the nearly three million cast. That triggered an automatic recount. When that process was completed at the beginning of the year, it indicated that Franken led by a similar number of votes. Then the battle moved to court.

The battle has national implications. If seated, Franken would become the Democrat's 60th vote in the chamber, giving the party a filibuster-proof majority - and denying Republicans the ability to single-handedly block legislation or nomination votes.

Ben Ginsberg, lead counsel for former Sen. Norm Coleman's campaign, was optimistic about the hearing, saying, "It was a very well informed, interested court who asked probing questions." Ginsberg added that, "we feel very good about the arguments."

"We're confident in our case, and in the arguments made by Marc Elias (Franken's attorney) this morning. Now we're just looking forward to the court's decision," said Jess McIntosh, Franken's press secretary.

Coleman and his wife were in court Monday. Franken did not attend.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Coleman wouldn't talk about his legal options if the court rules against him.


Filed under: Al Franken • Norm Coleman
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Franky

    "I've been a Republican since Reagan and I didn't vote for Obama. However, I respect him as my President and as a father and husband. Being President is a 24/7/365 job. He is never really on vacation. Likewise Michelle Obama has to be on her A-game day in and day out for the next four years, without even a paycheck and probably very little thanks. I don't begrudge him a moment of family time, in fact I respect him for setting an example and a precedent. Put your family first, Mr. President. When all the critics have gone on to someone else, your family will be the ones who still matter. As far as those two planeloads of reporters, why the heck did they get a trip to New York? I think the man can swallow food without their scrutiny. There's where the waste lies! For the rest of you, SHUT UP!! Save it for the real issues."

    Good lord, how come I didn't know this? LOL!!! Boy, I'm really missing out, huh? Ohh man, and you know is gonna be good, LOL!!

    Wow, wow!!

    June 1, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  2. Franky

    You know, I'm happy that the state is checking both of em, is too freaking long! They both deserve it and they are wasting people's time...

    Like I said before, hire the Twins scouts, they'll get you more results than these fools...

    June 1, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  3. The Broker.

    CNN! The Obliteration-Room. Hiding in a Fox-Hole....

    June 1, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  4. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    Okay, to all of you who took me to task in another article for equating "progressive" with "socialist," what does "progressive" mean? Progress toward what?

    June 1, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  5. LYNETTE IN CA

    The Justices should take into consideration that Coleman and his people are wasting the Court's time and the taxpayers money just because they can.

    COLEMAN – YOU LOST! MOVE ON!

    June 1, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  6. I am Newt's ex wife

    This sleazy attempt by the GOP to hold up the seat held by Franken is just plain pitiful.

    C'mon and give it up and let's do something to help the country.....or is the GOP against that?

    June 1, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  7. Donna from Colorado Springs

    The Minnesota state court needs to make a decision right now! This ridiculous Republican ploy to drag this out forever needs to be over with. Coleman needs to get a life and move on. He needs to stop embarrassing himself and the State of Minnesota.

    June 1, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  8. Joan

    I would think that the residents of Minnesota would be very happy to see Franken elected.

    This whole saga has surely gone on long enough !!!

    Coleman seems not to know the meaning of the word "lose!!"

    June 1, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  9. Dawn in Pa

    Give it up Coleman, step down and stop crying like a baby.

    June 1, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  10. Typical Republican

    Alright! It's the REPUBLICAN way. If you can't win, then take it to court. If you lose there too, stall and make it ALL OF AMERICA"S problem that you are a loser!

    Go Republicans! I love my party because it does nothing but keep things from movig forward into the future! I can't wait until we go back to the dark ages, when the earth was flat and america hadn't yet been discovered!

    Viva la 'NO 2 Progress, NO 2 Solutions, NO 2 america!"

    June 1, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  11. RR

    Seat Franken!

    we need more insult comics and talk radio DJs in the Senate.

    I can't wait 'til Franken is in the hallowed halls of the US Senate and during a debate he calls someone who disagrees with him a "big fat idiot" or a "lying liar"

    that will make MN proud!

    June 1, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  12. arithmetic is liberal

    If the State Supreme rules in favor of Franken,
    Coleman will take it to the Governor.

    If the Governor rules in favor of Franken,
    Coleman will take it to the Supreme Court.

    If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Franken,
    Coleman will tell us that we can't have a Senator from Minnesota until Jesus Christ comes back and tells us which one of them is OK with God to sit in the Senate.

    *face/palm*

    June 1, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  13. Former Stuart Smalley support now for Franken

    Give it up, Coleman!

    June 1, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  14. GOPer

    This is ridiculous and the people of Minnesota are paying the price. Stealing elections is pathetic practice.

    June 1, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  15. Mark

    The court should make a determination, and swiftly: that matters have taken this long to resolve is egregious, and judiciously lazy. If the court determines either a further recount or a result that should be accepted by both parties, and the matter should end there. It looks like Franken has won; whether Coleman or others like it or not, if the court rules in that manner then he must accept a final decision; if they rule a further recount of questioned ballots, both parties must abide by the final result. It is time for closure.

    June 1, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  16. Simmy

    I hope that the Court rules in the interest of Franken's constituents and brings an end to this mockery......In addition, I hope they make Coleman pay for all court costs.....

    June 1, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  17. Jeff Brown

    Norm has teeth like Mr. Ed!!!!!

    June 1, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  18. Obama - NOPE

    Coleman should fight on. There is reason to doubt the election results.

    June 1, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  19. Jeff W.

    Give it up Coleman, at this point you are coming across as very pathetic. You, like so many other Republicans, lost this time.

    June 1, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  20. Larry

    What a rediculous continuing SAGA ...

    Republican hocus pocus at it's near best ...

    Cloeman ...

    What a coward ...

    Thank our lucky stars that the voters saw through his facade ...

    Now let Franken take his rightful seat ...

    June 1, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  21. frank

    no matter what happens, Norm Coleman is a loser.

    June 1, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  22. big papa

    I smell another 2000 type election theft...

    ...I pray God curses all of the GOP traitors in this country...

    ...their karma after what they voted for in '00 and '04 (Bush-Cheney)...

    and what they did in Iraq...

    ...demands that they suffer unspeakably!

    ...Take it away CNN censors...

    June 1, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  23. Will - Minneapolis, MN

    Please, Coleman for the sake of Minnesota

    Give it up!!!

    June 1, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  24. Diana, upstate NY

    Absolutely nothing wrong in the President and his wife taking time out
    for a R & R in NYC. The both have a tremedous job in running this
    country and trying to straintening it out. Stop the complaining.
    Seriously just look back at how much BUSH spent in his eight years
    with regard to our country. God Bless Pres. Obama, give him
    some time for himself and his family.

    June 1, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  25. Marty, Grand Rapids

    I can't believe it takes this long to resolve this. Pathetic.

    June 1, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
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