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Minnesota High Court Rules Franken Can’t Be Certified Yet

In a blow to Al Franken and Senate Democrats, Minnesota’s highest court has ruled that he will not be certified the winner of the 2008 Senate recount until a trial on the race has been resolved. The state Supreme Court rejected the Franken campaign’s lawsuit on Friday to certify him as the winner over Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. Franken’s camp sued state officials in early January to certify his 225-vote recount victory so he could be seated — even if only provisionally — in the Senate during the ongoing court case. “The Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for Minnesota Law and Minnesotans,— Coleman legal spokesman Ben Ginsberg said in a statement. “This wise ruling will ensure that— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Al Franken and Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) “cannot short-circuit Minnesota Law in their partisan power play.— Democratic leaders could still move to seat Franken even without a certificate of election. The court points out in its response to Franken’s legal team that it is the Senate’s prerogative to determine its own membership and “is therefore free to seat Franken without a certificate of election if it so chooses, either provisionally or not.—But for the time being, Minnesota will continue to have a single Senator and Democrats will continue to have a caucus of 58. The decision is a boost to Coleman’s fledgling legal case and especially helpful for Senate Republicans because the Democratic caucus will remain two votes shy of the 60 needed to break a filibuster. The court rejected Franken’s petition on the basis that the state cannot issue an election certificate while there is a contest still pending in court, and that there is not a federal statute that mandates a certificate be issued before the new Congress meets. A three-judge panel continues to hear the recount case in a Minnesota court. Earlier this week, the Coleman campaign rested its case, paving the way for Franken’s team to begin presenting its legal argument. That process is expected to take several weeks and even when the judges do render their decision, it is highly likely that it will be appealed.

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