Franken v. Timothy Pawlenty and Mark Ritchie

3:04 p.m. I’m listening to a conference call with attorneys for Al Franken. They’re filing a lawsuit against Gov. Pawlenty and Mark Ritchie, the secretary of state, seeking an election certificate.

3:06 p.m. Attorney Marc Elias is citing the law I highlighted yesterday. “All we are seeking is something all Minnesotans should insist on: full representation in the United States Senate.”

3:07 p.m. Elias says the general provision of the law not specific to Senate elections says that a certificate of election should not be issued until the contest has been determined by a court. He says there’s a “tension” there between the two paragraphs I cited yesterday… one speaks in mandatory terms, and one speaks in a more general way. He says the provision they (Franken) relies on is more specific.

He says the state of Minnesota, in the second provision, did something important, making clear it doesn’t apply to state senator or state representative because the Minnesota constitution gives the final decision on who to seat to the legislative bodies.

Elias says that’s also true at the federal levels. “We believe to harmonize the tension (between the two subdivisions of the law)… is to recognize that just as the state House and state Senate have final determination there and an election certificate cannot be held up pending a judicial contest, likewise the same is true for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.

He cites the Supreme Court case I referenced in yesterday’s post.


Q: Why aren’t you filing this in federal court?

A: We’re not alleging a conflict between state and federal law. We think state law needs to be read against the backdrop of the U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court of Minnesota has been sensitive to that. We’re bringing a question of state law interpretation.

Q: Doesn’t Franken look greedy here in the court of public opinion?

A: No. We asked the governor and secretary of state to do what the law compelled them to do.

Q: What are the odds this will succeed given the fact the Republicans threaten to filibuster this issue?

A: The chances of a filibuster disappear once an election certificate is issued.

==> Franken camp tries to end questions but the guy’s volume is too low <==

Q: Why pursue this when you’re ahead?

A: We’re confident that we’ll prevail in the process. We gained votes in the recount, during the recount reconciliation, and during the improper absentee ballot process. We feel very good. The question is … your readers and your listeners face an uncertain economic world and should the people be deprived full representation in the Senate because Sen. Coleman wants his day in court.

(Bob notes: They’re suggesting — appropriately — a responsibility to deal with economic issues in the Senate. Would this be a bad time to renew my request to the senator-elect to answer some questions about economic issues and a few foreign policy issues facing the Senate?

Franken camp shouts “last question.” (There are, of course, many questions left to answer, but perhaps the Franken camp recognizes the more difficult questions still to be asked).

Q: All top lawyers seem to see the plain reading that you shouldn’t get your certificate.

A: We’ll let the Supreme Court make that decision.

Update 4:44 p.m. – Tom Scheck has audio up of the follow-up Coleman conference call.

Update 4:44 p.m. It’s Lawsuitpalooza. Tom Scheck reports a group of Franken voters is suing Ritchie and several counties, because their absentee ballots weren’t counted.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Remember how you asked me earlier how Franken could “look Senatorial” and win the PR battle with Franken?

    Well, this isn’t the way.

    Bad idea.

  • MR

    So here’s the other shoe, to nobody’s great surprise. It looks like Franken might have a decent legal case, but this isn’t doing him any favors in popularity.

  • Joel

    Franken will be in the Senate soon enough; he probably should have just waited patiently. Or as patiently as possible.

  • Bob Moffitt

    “…win the PR battle with Coleman,” rather.

    Tired. Time to go home.

  • bsimon

    Yup to Joel, MR & Bob M. This is a mistake on Franken’s part. He should be arguing for either a provisional seat until the contest process is complete, or just stay quiet & let the process continue. Suing for a certificate is the wrong move.

  • joe musich

    I just remember how Al Gore’s campaign looked when they didn’t go full tilt in Florida. I just remember what happened when Gore wasn’t elected. I think the Franken effort is looking more like it’s fighting fire with water and not with fire. Nevertheless they are staying in the battle and good for them.