Franken Ruled Winner, Again

When I wrote, "What is Best for Coleman?," urging Coleman to drop his court challenge some thought I was being facetious. Maybe Coleman should have listened.

We are now in the next stage of Republican attempts to delay Minnesotans' full representation in the U.S. Senate. Yesterday's strongly worded ruling by the Minnesota Court that Franken won the election, not only puts Minnesota closer to getting a second Senator, but further damages whatever integrity and political future Coleman has left. (Now, even a former GOP congressman told Coleman: "You Lost...It Is Over.")

The courts did not spare Coleman's feelings when they "soundly rejected Norm Coleman's attempt to reverse Al Franken's lead in the U.S. Senate election late Monday, sweeping away the Republican's claims in a blunt ruling Coleman promised to appeal."

The Start Tribune reports that the Judges weren't impressed with Coleman's argument:

After a trial spanning nearly three months, the judicial panel dismissed Coleman's central argument that the election and its aftermath were fraught with systemic errors that made the results invalid.

"The overwhelming weight of the evidence indicates that the Nov. 4, 2008, election was conducted fairly, impartially and accurately," the panel said in its unanimous decision.

The panel concluded that Franken..."received the highest number of votes legally cast" in the election. Franken emerged from the trial with a 312-vote lead, the court ruled, and "is therefore entitled to receive the certificate of election."

Clearly, Coleman should pull the plug on his appeals because it's hard to argue how continuing this fight is in his best interest. Part of me can understand why Republican leaders wouldn't care about Coleman's former constituents, the nation's best interests, or court rulings in their frenzied partisan pursuit to keep Franken from the Senate, but Coleman should know better.

Let me reiterate what I wrote a couple of weeks ago:

I do not know Coleman personally, but I imagine that there aren't many people around him who consider Coleman's best interest over their own personal agendas. I have little doubt that Coleman's lawyers and political supporters have the ability and incentive to push this race well into the future. I fear that the inherently deliberative nature of our courts, combined with the partisan agenda of Coleman's advocates, means that the people of Minnesota will continue to be denied full representation in the Senate.

Yet, there comes a point when Coleman's closest friends need to remind him that it's his name at stake, that Coleman should think of his future and his former constituents. Coleman's true friends ought to remind him that sometimes the hardest people to say no to are your supporters. At the end of the day, the immediate past senator from Minnesota needs to look into his mirror and say, "Norm Coleman, enough is enough."

Coleman knows that there are ways to continue delaying his departure from this race, but he will also come to realize that the people advising him to prolong Minnesota"s longest unresolved election are not the ones he should be listening to.

The most recent ruling from Minnesota's courts not only ruled Franken the winner, but "experts who read the panel's 68-page ruling say it effectively attacks some of the very arguments that Coleman would use on appeal." Coleman didn't just lose, he was humiliated.

"It is the kind of opinion that is unlikely to be disturbed on appeal by either the Minnesota Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court," said Richard Hasen, an expert on election law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "The opinion considers the major arguments made by Coleman and rejects them in a detailed and measured way."

Added University of Minnesota political scientist Lawrence Jacobs: "This is judicial speak for 'nothing here,' and it is most definitely aimed at the appeals process. It's a signal that they are supremely unimpressed by the Coleman case."

So, what's best for Coleman? Richard Hasen, an expert on election law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, asks, "What"s next?"

Coleman has promised an appeal to the state Supreme Court, but I would not count on it. He might decide that his political future in Minnesota requires him to bow out gracefully at this point. The countervailing factor is the national interests of the Republican party, which want to keep a 59th Democrat out of the Senate for as long as possible. If Coleman appeals, it is possible that the Minnesota Supreme Court would reach the equal protection issues more directly, but even if it did, I'd be surprised to see a different result.


The Three-judge court opinion ends by extolling the virtues of the Minnesota electoral system. I think some praise needs to be heaped on the three judge court as well, for doing a fair job and rising above the partisan politics that has infected too many election law cases in recent years.

Maybe, what's next and what's best for Coleman are the same -- it's long past time to step aside.

Crossposted on NJDC"s blog.