It’s been news for nearly a half an hour now that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Al Franken. But before the rejoicing begins in earnest, and too much beer and champagne are drunk, and too much confetti is thrown into the air, consider this:
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.Stat. § 204C.40 (2008) to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota.
That’s the judgment at the end of the Supreme Court’s 32 page opinion.
Hey, that’s great, Spotty! When’s the swearing in ceremony?
Not so fast, grasshopper. The judgment lacks one teensy little thing: an order to Governor Pawlenty to sign the certificate. He’s said he would, unless blah blah blah. Of course, blah blah blah is in the eye of the beholder.
If he refuses to sign the certificate, on whatever pretext: that he’s unsure of the correctness of the decision, Coleman says he’s going to appeal to the federal courts, whatever; the governor’s failure to sign is not likely to have legal consequences. Why? Because the governor has not been given an order from which he could be found in contempt.
It may not be over yet.
Update: The grasshopper asked why the Court didn’t include an order to the governor and the secretary of state in its judgment. Spot’s pretty sure that Al Franken’s lawyers would have asked for one. The best answer is probably the reluctance of the Court to provoke a constitutional crisis. That’s understandable, but it seems like a dereliction of the Court’s duty to declare what the law is and to enforce it.
Further update: It is reported that Norm Coleman has awakened and smelled the unmistakable aroma of coffee.
And Spot forgives the Supreme Court for not wanting to pick a constitutional fight with the governor.