June 1st, 2009
10:13 AM ET
11 years ago

Crucial hearing Monday in Coleman-Franken fight

The Minnesota Supreme Court is hearing argument Monday in the election contest between Norm Coleman and Al Franken.

The Minnesota Supreme Court is hearing argument Monday in the election contest between Norm Coleman and Al Franken.

(CNN) - Nearly seven months after Election Day, the battle between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken for a U.S. Senate seat from Minnesota heads to the state's Supreme Court.

But an eventual ruling by Minnesota's top court may not bring an end to one of the nation's longest-running election disputes in decades.

The justices on the state's highest court will hear arguments today 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.

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.

The Coleman camp quickly appealed that ruling to the state legal system.

Coleman wants the court to order that more than 4,000 absentee ballots that were rejected be counted.

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. 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.

The court could take weeks to decide.

"I would hope within a month or so we will get a decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court, and that this will be resolved," Amy Klobuchar, currently Minnesota's only senator, told CNN's John King on State of the Union on Sunday.

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.

Filed under: Al Franken • Minnesota • Norm Coleman • Senate
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Farnk, Las Vegas

    Coleman and the GOP won't stop after they lose in the MN Supreme court, They'll take it to federal court next. Coleman and the GOP don't care about MN, just party. Coleman you LOST, get over it and go home. For once in your life care about the citizens of MN who only have one Senator, You should be ashamed!

    June 1, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  2. Ken in NC

    Coleman and the Republican Party are going to try to tie this election up in the courts for the next six years to keep a Democrat from being seated. They do not care about the people of Minnesota or the nation. It's all about losing that final control. This is a sad day in US History.

    June 1, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. James M. Holmes

    Coleman lost... accept it! It didn't take this long for the SCOTUS to seat Bush in 2000!

    This is just more OBSTUCTION by the GOP... Enough already... Seat Franken! The GOP knows Coleman lost, but they just want to stop the Dems from getting the fillerbuster proof Senate as long as they can...

    The GOP has been fillerbustering everything for 2 years now... I'm curious, what ever happened to the "up or down vote" that the GOP was crying about just a few years ago? I guess that only applies to the bills THEY like! The GOP NEVER misses an opportunity to show their hypocracry!

    June 1, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  4. Had It

    The GOP is funding Coleman's fight to keep the country and one state in particular (Minnesota) without representation as stated by LAW.

    Lawless GOP.

    June 1, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  5. Lorna, NY

    I hope this can finally be over.

    June 1, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  6. wwf

    Colman shoud be ashamed. Mn. should be ashamed for voting in the to smut slinger. Get rid of both them and hold a new election, except keep them off the ballot. Yes, I am from MN.

    June 1, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  7. David

    This is insane. Were it the other way around...with a Democrat bollixing up the process in the courts, the GOP would be going berzerk...ALL kinds of attacks on the Dems, as in Bush v. Gore (remember James Baker saying "The election is over...the votes have been counted, then recounted, then counted again").

    Democrats are their own worst enemies...they need to take a page from the Republicans and grow a spine.

    June 1, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  8. Southwestern Guy

    Get this thing decided! The state supreme court needs to rule ASAP! Al Franken won this election, however narrowly. Norm Coleman is such a sore loser, he doesn't deserve to be elected dog catcher in the future!!!

    June 1, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  9. J.Crobuzon

    Coleman is now the GOP's biggest weenie. His dog-in-the-manger act is just more of the same Republican obstructionism. These people can't stand it when democracy works in a two-party system; heck, imagine if Franken just had his dad's friends on the Supreme Court break the tie the way GW did it!

    June 1, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  10. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Wow! This would highlight the importance of who gets confirmed for the Supreme Court. The court has already decided who's going to be President on one occassion; now it gets to decide who's going to be in the Senate. Whatever happenned to voting?

    June 1, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. Dawn in Pa

    When all said and done, it will be time to elect another Senator. Get it over please.

    June 1, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. Lynda/Minnesota

    Be careful what you wish for Norm. You had a lead, which by your continual lawsuits now has put Franken in the lead. . .

    The 4,000 votes in contention are absentee votes which have already been reviewed and were deemed illegally cast, either with wrong addresses, unsigned ballots, unable to validate signator, not received within Minnesota legal law and other such "controversal" legalities.

    Meanwhile, we in Minnesota are without our constitutionally mandated second senator and Pawlenty wants nothing more than to forget this entire fiasco.

    June 1, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. sensible Cape Coral FL

    Hey, Coleman – even you have to admit that this is getting a bit ridiculous. You're making a fool out of yourself as well as the entire
    electoral process. Grow UP !!!!

    June 1, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. william

    Time for this to end and send Al Franken to the Senate. Norm Coleman must have been a joke as a Senator if he couldn't beat the politically astute comedian, Al Franken.

    Go Away Norm Coleman

    June 1, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  15. Nefertiti

    This will probably go to the Supreme Court, The RNC which means
    R for Rush
    N for Newt and
    C for Cheney. will spend as much money deemed possible to stop
    Franken from representing the people of Minnesoto as long as
    possible. The RNC are sore losers who are afraid of losing their
    power and hold on the status Quo. They are like small children
    running around screeming their heads off because sombody took their lollipop away. Come on fellas get over it you lost after the jobs was sent overseas and people start losing their homes , pension and etc. Oh by the way you can thank Bush and Cheney for the Katrina fiasco. That's what did it for me.

    June 1, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. Tina Mattson

    Arguments are going on right now. Not on Tuesday.

    June 1, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  17. Mississippi Mike

    Coleman won the general election. Franken won the contest of who could get the most junk votes to work in his favor. The Minnesota Supreme Court gets to render an inconsequential decision before the case goes to the circuit courts and then eventually to the US Supreme Court.

    Let's hope this doesn't turn out to be another stolen election by a Democrat.

    June 1, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  18. Heidi, VT

    Enough already. Coleman is acting like a spoiled kid.

    June 1, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. jb

    Might not be a bad idea for the Minn Gov. to end this thing. If he has his sites on the White house, severing ties with this sore loser Coleman, might be a good idea.

    June 1, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  20. Ajay Jain, Garland, TX, USA

    CRUCIAL hearing my foot!!! Norm Coleman will take this fight to US Supreme Court that will REFUSE to hear it and only THEN will Coleman concede. Some way to fillabuster the Senate!!!

    Obama – Biden 2012

    June 1, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  21. Cheryl in NH

    Coleman is an embarrassment...this became about the national Republican Party after Franken was declared the winner...not the State of Minnesota. Minnesotans should publicly tar and feather him. For your petty partisanship, the state of MN does not have proper representation. Shame on you, FORMER Sen. Coleman and the national party leaders financing your appeals.

    June 1, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. The Unshrub

    Coleman knows he will not win, this is just the republican's way of preventing the Democrats from having 60 seats in the US Senate.

    June 1, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  23. RR

    The people of MN have spoeken! They want an ascerbic, comedic senator who will use the senate floor to denounce those he disagrees with as "big fat idiots," or "lying liars!"

    We need more talk radio hosts and comedians in the senate! Go Al!

    June 1, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  24. alvino

    Coleman lost! It is time for the party of deep pockets to tell Norm to move on. Surely, Fox News would hire him. In Norm's defense, he does seem a little more stable than Glenn Beck.

    June 1, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    Norm Coleman is not serving the best interests of the people of Minnesota by dragging this out as he has. He is only serving his own selfish interest and that of his obstructionist Republican Party. Coleman is a fraud who should concede. NOW.

    June 1, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
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