Eight months after the 2008 election, the Minnesota Supreme Court has declared Democrat Al Franken the winner of the state’s U.S. Senate election. The unanimous decision clears the way for Franken to be seated:
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. 32 Stat. § 204C.40 (2008) to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota.
This weekend on CNN, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said that he would be ready to “sign” the certificate officially declaring Franken the winner as soon as the supreme court gave the “green light“:
CNN: Your state supreme court has a ruling before it, it could come very soon. After that ruling, the next step would be for you to certify the election. Will you certify the election based on your state’s supreme court ruling, is that for you?
PAWLENTY: I’m going to follow the direction of the court, John. We expect that ruling any day now. I also expect them to give guidance and direction as to the certificate of election. I’m prepared to sign it as soon as they give the green light.
Today’s decision doesn’t contain any language specifically instructing Pawlenty to sign the certificate of election — which isn’t surprising, since the governor wasn’t a party to the litigation.
Coleman still has the option to “seek a review from the U.S. Supreme Court or file a whole new case in U.S. District Court.” If he does so and the court says to “put a limit on or stop the effect of the state court ruling,” Pawlenty said that he will abide by that decision. However, he said that “if that doesn’t happen promptly or drags out for any period of time, then we need to move ahead with signing this, particularly if I’m ordered to do that by the state court.”
TPM’s Eric Kleefeld has also raised the possibility that the Senate GOP could “attempt to filibuster” Franken’s acceptance, even if Pawlenty signs the certificate. NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (R-TX) has said that he’s willing to wage “World War III” if Democrats try to seat Franken before Coleman carries his case out through federal court — even though it could take “years” to resolve.
Franken will be the 60th Democrat in the U.S. Senate, giving the party enough votes to overcome Republican filibusters.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) released a statement saying, “The Senate looks forward to welcoming Senator-elect Franken as soon as possible. … I once again encourage Governor Pawlenty to respect the votes of his constituents and the decisions of his state’s highest court. He should put politics aside, follow his state’s laws and finally sign the certificate that will bring this episode to an end.”