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Earlier today, Gov. Dayton accused the GOP legislative leadership of lying about how much money they had in reserves. He even had the audacity of publishing a statement essentially accusing Republicans of negotiating in bad faith. (This coming from the politician who promised to sign a $1,000,000,000 tax relief bill in 2016. How rich.)

Part of Gov. Dayton’s statement said “I have said repeatedly that my reason for exercising my Constitutional line-item veto of some of the Legislature’s biennial appropriation was to require them to revise their 2017 tax bill, which I believe will seriously jeopardize Minnesota government’s future financial stability. Republican legislative leaders have said repeatedly that the reason for their lawsuit was to provide them with sufficient funds to operate in this biennium.”

Why didn’t the Twin Cities media ask Gov. Dayton why he negotiated (then subsequently agreed to) the Tax Bill? Certainly, he agreed to the Tax Bill because he called the special session. Why would he call a special session if he didn’t major provisions in the bill? Is it because he’s just stupid? Or is it because he decided that he wasn’t going to honor his promise? Here’s Gov. Dayton’s full statement:

One of the eye-popping paragraphs in Gov. Dayton’s mediation statement said this:

I was not surprised by the intransigence of Republican legislative leaders during this attempted mediation. But the reason for their intransigence was a surprise. They have now revealed that they already have more than enough money to operate both the House and the Senate at their projected levels of spending, until they reconvene in Session next February.

WCCO-TV said this about that statement:

Currently, there’s no agreement in sight, and the Legislature is set to run out of money beginning Oct. 1. As it stands, the Legislature has enough money in reserve to continue operations until Dec. 1. After that, the jobs of hundreds of staffers are in jeopardy.

As much as Gov. Dayton wants to distort what’s happening, the Courts have the full and truthful figures. As for Gov. Dayton, there’s little reason to trust him. He’s already reneged on his negotiated tax bill deal. He’s frequently played with people’s livelihoods, especially if they live on the range or are blue collar workers. Trusting him is foolish because he’s gone back on his word too often. Here’s the full text of Gov. Dayton’s statement:

I thank our Mediator, former Judge Rick Solum, for his concerted efforts over the past two days to help the Legislature and our Administration negotiate a settlement of the issues that have divided us. For the past four months, I have advocated for just such a negotiated agreement.

I have said repeatedly that my reason for exercising my Constitutional line-item veto of some of the Legislature’s biennial appropriation was to require them to revise their 2017 tax bill, which I believe will seriously jeopardize Minnesota government’s future financial stability. Republican legislative leaders have said repeatedly that the reason for their lawsuit was to provide them with sufficient funds to operate in this biennium.

I was not surprised by the intransigence of Republican legislative leaders during this attempted mediation. But the reason for their intransigence was a surprise. They have now revealed that they already have more than enough money to operate both the House and the Senate at their projected levels of spending, until they reconvene in Session next February.

Their cash surplus contradicts the high drama they have been manufacturing during the past four months. Just today one of their members asserted, ‘…the governor used his line-item veto power to eliminate funding for the Legislature, effectively abolishing the legislative branch.’

Their current cash position also contradicts the assertions made in their filing with the Minnesota Supreme Court this past week. It stated, ‘Assuming the House and Senate spend as anticipated through October 1, 2017, and only begin using their carryforward funds thereafter, the anticipated date carryforward funds will be exhausted is as follows:  House: After payment of payroll on February 1, 2018.  Senate: After payment of payroll on December 1, 2017.’

However, this statement fails to disclose what the Republican legislative leaders have known – or should have known – for some time. In addition to their carry-forward funds, they have stated they will use the Legislative Coordinating Commission’s biennial carry-forward monies of over $3.6 million and appropriation of over $35 million to completely fund their expected operating expenses until they return to Session next year. They admit their Legislative Counsel has advised them that they can do so.

Republican leaders have claimed repeatedly that they had to file their lawsuit and cost taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees, to prevent the Legislature from being ‘abolished’ by my vetoes depriving them of operating funds. Now, after the Court forced their financial disclosure, we learn their claim is untrue.

They owe the Minnesota Supreme Court and the people of Minnesota an honest explanation of why they have dragged all of us into their costly theatrics over the past four months.

First, Gov. Dayton’s statement is a distraction from what’s most important about this lawsuit. No governor should have the authority to defund another branch of government. Period. That path is fraught with perils, none of which are anything but disastrous. The thought that Gov. Dayton, or other governors in the future, would have the court-sanctioned ability to punish the judicial or legislative branches for not doing as he wishes is frightening.

Gov. Dayton’s term in office can’t end quickly enough.

To: Minnesota Supreme Court
From: Gary Gross, President, Uppity Peasants Brigade
Subject: Do your damned jobs, aka Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto

Several weeks ago, you had the opportunity to settle a pretty straightforward case. You blew it by stating the obvious without doing anything. This can’t continue. At issue were 2 constitutional provisions. First was the line-item veto. The other was whether Minnesotans had the constitutional right to 3 fully-functioning branches of government.

Since nobody disputed whether the line-item veto was part of Minnesota’s constitution, the only question was whether there were limits on its usage. Gov. Dayton’s attorney insisted that there weren’t any limitations on how or when he could use it. He was paid to say that. I’d question whether he believed that. It appears as though you don’t think that a governor has the right to use the line-item veto. The problem is that you didn’t state that emphatically. Instead, you punted, hoping that the political branches would work things out.

They won’t and they shouldn’t. It’s your job to determine constitutional questions. That isn’t a political question. It has political ramifications but it isn’t a political question.

The other issue you had to determine was whether the people of the state of Minnesota had the constitutional right to 3 fully-functioning branches of government. You said in your ruling that they have that constitutional right. You also said that Gov. Dayton didn’t have the right to use a constitutional tool to obtain “an unconstitutional result”, presumably referring to the shutting down the legislative branch.

This is where you blew it. It’s like a math question. It’s like the teacher asked you what 2+2 is. It’s like you replied 2+2 equals insufficient information to give an answer. It’s clear that you’d rather invite a colony of ants to your picnic than resolve this straightforward case. That’s tough. You accepted the job. Now it’s time to fulfill your responsibility.

When the Legislature and Gov. Dayton don’t resolve this issue, it’s time for you to decide this lawsuit in the only logical manner possible. Rule that governors can’t disable other branches government with their line-item veto authority.

Finally, in your ruling, you questioned whether the judicial branch had the authority to appropriate money. That isn’t relevant. It isn’t important to decide that question because Gov. Dayton signed the bill that appropriated money to operate the legislature. By ruling that Gov. Dayton couldn’t use his line-item veto to disable another branch of government, you could then legitimately rule that the entire bill appropriated the money to run the legislature. You’d solve 2 constitutional questions with 1 ruling plus you’d fund the legislature.

If you don’t get this right, understand that I will lead a campaign to defeat each of you cowards the next time you’re up for re-election. That’s a threat you can take seriously.

After reading Briana Bierschbach’s MinnPost article, it’s clear that the justices who voted to give Minnesota governors virtually unlimited negotiating powers should be impeached.

In a section titled “The governor just got more power”, Bierschbach quoted Steven Schier, “a political science professor at Carleton College,” as saying that “the Supreme Court is setting a precedent that will allow all future governors to veto legislative budgets to continue negotiations.”

That’s certainly the majority opinion was amongst the media and punditry but that isn’t the entire story. As Ms. Bierschbach notes from the ruling, “Our Constitution requires ‘three distinct departments: legislative, executive and judicial. Minnesotans may soon be deprived of their constitutional right to three independent branches of government.”

According to the ruling, the Supreme Court said that governors can’t use a constitutional tool to “achieve an unconstitutional result.” It’s indisputable that the people have “a right to three fully functioning branches of government.”

That brings me to my main point, which is that the Supreme Court should have ruled that, while the line-item veto is constitutional, its application in this instance produced an unconstitutional result. Remember, Gov. Dayton didn’t veto the state government finance bill. He just line-item vetoed the legislature’s operational funding.

If my understanding is right, and I’m 99+ percent certain it is, this paragraph is irrelevant:

“We are unaware of any authority that allows the Judicial Branch to authorize spending simply because parties ask a court to do so,” the ruling reads. “In fact our cases suggest that the Judicial branch does not have the inherent power to appropriate money.”

If the Supreme Court rules that Gov. Dayton’s application of the line-item veto was improper, they can simply strike it, which means that the bill that the governor signed and that the legislature passed will take effect. There wouldn’t be a need for the Court to appropriate money.

In the final analysis, the Supreme Court dodged its responsibility. They might get this right yet but, if they do, it’ll be luck, not principle, that will be the deciding factor. They should’ve ruled that Gov. Dayton’s use of the line-item veto was improper because it eventually leads to an unconstitutional result. Instead of using sound judicial principles, these 6 justices essentially said that they didn’t want to make a decision.

We don’t need justices with straw spines and a moist finger in the air. We need justices who use impeccable judicial principles in making the right decisions. At this point, that’s asking too much of these justices. They’ve shown that they aren’t principled jurists with a titanium spine.

That’s why impeachment is the right path to take. I know that there aren’t enough votes to convict. Still, it would highlight the fact that these jurists aren’t fit for office. That might be enough to defeat some of them in next November’s elections.

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When the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in Emperor Dayton’s favor, they created an unequal branch of government through judicial fiat. Thanks to their ruling, future governors can negotiate in bad faith, insist that the legislature give him everything he wants, then veto funding for the legislative branch or the judicial branch.

This article reports that the ruling was unanimous, with Justice Stras recusing himself. What’s odd, though, is that the ruling talked about “the people’s constitutional right to three independent, functioning branches of government.” If it’s “the people’s constitutional right to three independent, functioning branches of government”, then the Court’s ruling makes no constitutional sense whatsoever.

It makes sense, though, from the standpoint that the justices are wimps that wanted to avoid making a constitutional ruling. They’ve essentially stated that they didn’t want to resolve any thorny constitutional issues. The Supreme Court essentially said that they won’t settle constitutional issues.

This is a picture of the Minnesota Supreme Court, including Justice David Stras, who recused himself from the case:

Justice Stras isn’t a wimp. I wish I could say the same about the other 6 justices but I can’t.

As terrible as their ruling is, the person who the people should most be upset with is Emperor Dayton. I won’t call him governor anymore because he’s insisted throughout this lawsuit that his authority was absolute. What type of egotist thinks that his actions are beyond scrutiny? Friday night, Emperor Dayton appeared on Almanac. While there, he bragged that the Court had ruled that the line-item veto was constitutional. The sick thing is that nobody disputed that. Ever. Lots of people argued that Emperor Dayton’s line-item veto authority wasn’t absolute. The Six Wimps of the Supreme Court ruled that this isn’t part of America, that it functioned like a third world dictatorship.

Finally, I’d ask people to let this paragraph sink in:

“Minnesotans may soon be deprived of their constitutional right to three independent branches of government,” the court wrote.

If Minnesotans might “be deprived of their constitutional right to three independent branches of government,” shouldn’t the Supreme Court intervene and prevent that?

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This afternoon, the Minnesota Supreme Court punted rather than make a constitution-based decision in the lawsuit filed by the legislature against Gov. Dayton. According to the article, “The Minnesota Supreme Court said Friday that Gov. Mark Dayton was within his authority to line-item veto funding for the House and Senate. But justices ordered the parties engage in mediated negotiations to come up with a workable solution.”

First, the injustice done with this ruling is stunning. Rather than rule that there are sensible limits on the executive branch, the Supreme Court essentially ruled that there aren’t limits on the use of the line-item veto. They’ve essentially given the governor unlimited power!

According to the article, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote for the court, saying “The other branches should resolve these doubts through the political process. Thus far, they have not done so. As a result, Minnesotans may soon be deprived of their constitutional right to three independent branches of government.”

That’s stunning. Chief Justice Gildea admitted that the Supreme Court had the opportunity to guarantee that people would have the right of 3 functioning branches of government but that the Supreme Court declined to protect the people’s rights.

Further, the Supreme Court ordered the other co-equal branches into mediation rather than fulfilling their responsibility of applying the Constitution. Where in the Constitution does it give the Supreme Court the authority to tell the other branches what to do? A: It isn’t in there.

If I were advising Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka, I’d advise them to refuse to participate in mediation. I’d issue a statement saying that they won’t participate in extra-constitutional activities that the Court doesn’t have the authority to require or enforce.

If Mssrs. Daudt and Gazelka decide to participate in mediation, then I’d advise them to tell Gov. Dayton that he’ll have to give up some things in the budget that Republicans agreed to that they didn’t want. Further, I’d issue a statement saying that Gov. Dayton will have to renegotiate things that the GOP agreed to. Here’s how I’d word that statement:

We have agreed to mediation because Minnesotans need 3 functioning branches of government. Because Gov. Dayton wants to renegotiate parts of the GOP Tax Relief Bill that he agreed to, it’s only fair that he prepare to renegotiate parts of the budget that we didn’t like. If Gov. Dayton isn’t willing to give up things that he wanted, then it’s obvious that he won’t negotiate in good faith. We won’t negotiate where we do all the giving and Gov. Dayton does all of the taking.

This shows why judges should be elected, not appointed. This ruling shouldn’t have happened. This court made up new rules rather than apply the Constitution.

This ruling happened because DFL jurists sided with Gov. Dayton because of their political beliefs rather than based on longstanding constitutional principles. As such, they should be seen as constitutional freeloaders.

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This post by Powerline’s Scott Johnson predicts a sad outcome in the lawsuit filed by the legislature against Gov. Dayton. In his post, Johnson, an attorney, wrote “Based on the oral argument, it seems clear to me that the Supreme Court is poised to reverse Judge Guthmann’s ruling and remand the case to Judge Guthmann for an order funding the legislature’s core functions beyond October 1 for as long as necessary. If and when Governor Dayton prevails on appeal, he can be expected to call a special session of the legislature specifically limited to revisiting provisions of the state government finance bill that he found objectionable. Governor Dayton appointed four of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s seven justices. The playing field is tilted in his favor.”

God help us if Scott’s prediction is right. I don’t want to sound to dramatic but a ruling in Dayton’s favor is a ruling against checks and balances and a ruling that would essentially obliterate the concept of co-equal branches of government. Harold Hamilton summarizes things perfectly in his weekly commentary:

During oral arguments, Chief Justice Gildea cut right to the heart of matter by asking this question of Dayton’s lawyer: If the line-item veto power has no limits or qualification, is the governor not empowered to veto or threaten to veto funding for the judicial branch if he doesn’t like the way a court rules a case?

Dayton’s lawyers engaged in some verbal gymnastics before simply stating that such a question “isn’t before the court today.”

This is the tell-tale question.

For Dayton’s view to prevail, it must be admitted that the line-item veto has no limits. It means that the governor can threaten to veto funding to operate the legislature or the courts to leverage political outcomes. In short, it means that the governor can threaten the integrity of the courts and the legislature.

Scott is right. Gov. Dayton has successfully stacked the Court. If Gov. Dayton’s appointees rule in his favor, Republicans will use that ruling to eviscerate DFL candidates at all levels.

Imagine if you’re Dan Wolgamott, running against Jim Knoblach in HD-14B. Further, imagine having to defend the governor from your party essentially claiming that he should have the ability to negotiate in bad faith and get everything he wants from the legislature and the courts through the stroke of a pen.

That isn’t what a constitutional republic looks like. It’s what a third-world dictatorship looks like. It’s what totalitarianism looks like.

If Gov. Dayton’s appointees rule in his favor, that’ll be proof that Gov. Dayton’s appointees are Democrats first and constitution-minded jurists second. Minnesotans need to ask themselves if that’s what they want. Do they really want Democrats anywhere near the levers of power in St. Paul?

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Scott Johnson’s post on Al Franken’s obstructionist tactics might get Sen. Franken in trouble. It seems that Sen. Franken’s explanation on why he’s obstructing David Stras from getting a hearing doesn’t add up. Put differently, Sen. Franken might be lying.

According to Scott’s post, Sen. Franken’s standard reply to why Justice Stras hasn’t received a hearing is “Thank you for contacting me regarding the nomination of Justice David Stras to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. I appreciate hearing from you.

On May 8, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to fill a vacancy on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. As senator and a member of the Judiciary Committee, I have the responsibility to vet and vote on judicial nominees, and this is a responsibility that I take very seriously. I believe the record, experience, and philosophy of all nominees should be carefully scrutinized in order to fully evaluate them.

Justice David Stras is a committed public servant whose tenure as a professor at the University of Minnesota underscores how much he cares about the law. I am concerned, however, by the fact that Judge Stras’ nomination is the product of a process that relied heavily on guidance from far-right Washington, DC-based special interest groups–rather than through a committee made up of a cross-section of Minnesota’s legal community. As President Trump’s nominee to the Eighth Circuit, I am taking a close look at his record and his writings to better understand how he thinks about the important matters before our federal courts today.”

It’s time for Sen. Franken to tell the truth about this. According to this post, Stras has been a justice since 2010. President Trump nominated Justice Stras to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in early May, which means Justice Stras has, at most, 5-6 years worth of rulings to go through. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, it shouldn’t take 4 months to read through Justice Stras’s rulings and form an opinion on those rulings.

Reading between the lines of Sen. Franken’s stock reply, it sounds more like Sen. Franken is holding this nomination up on purely ideological grounds. I’m betting that he isn’t willing to admit that in public. The line that tips this off is when Sen. Franken said “I am concerned, however, by the fact that Judge Stras’ nomination is the product of a process that relied heavily on guidance from far-right Washington, DC-based special interest groups.”

That’s BS. As Scott mentioned in his post, Stras is supported isn’t limited to conservatives. Stras is supported by people from across Minnesota’s political spectrum.

Sen. Franken is being a weasel. Here’s hoping Minnesota voters remember this when he’s up for re-election in 2020.

After reading a frightening quote from this article, it’s fair to question whether Gov. Dayton is partially dishonest or mostly dishonest.

The article quotes Gov. Dayton as saying “It is unfortunate that Republican legislative leaders are using this ruling to avoid completing their work.” Apparently, Gov. Dayton’s staff hasn’t made sure that he’s taking his medication. Apparently, Gov. Dayton hasn’t noticed that he signed all of the budget bills. Apparently, Gov. Dayton is pretending that his veto eliminating the Legislative Branch is constitutional even though a judge has said it isn’t.

In his ruling, Judge Guthmann said “The court concludes that the Governor’s vetoes violated the Separation of Powers clause of the Minnesota Constitution because they both nullified a branch of government and refashioned the line-item veto as a tool to secure the repeal or modification of policy legislation unrelated to the vetoed appropriation.”

Judge Guthmann continued, saying “Absent emergency court funding, the effective abolition will exist as long as the Governor decides to veto legislative funding bills submitted to him, which the Governor’s counsel conceded could occur through the remainder of the Governor’s term. The Governor argues that the vetoes abolished or defunded the legislature. However emergency funding is at most a temporary measure to preserve the constitutional rights of the people while the Executive and Legislative Branches resolve their differences. Emergency funding is not a remedy for arguably unconstitutional actions by one branch of government against another.”

Gov. Dayton, is your appeal based on the belief that you stacked the Minnesota Supreme Court with DFL ideologues who will rule with you no matter what? (Actually, I’m fairly confident the Minnesota Supreme Court will get this right because I can’t imagine how they’d argue that the Legislative Branch isn’t an essential part of the government.) If Gov. Dayton’s justices rule that the legislature isn’t essential, they’ll be instant laughingstocks.

Gov. Dayton and Rebecca Otto are both appealing their lawsuits to the Supreme Court. Gov. Dayton is virtually assured of losing while Otto is likely to lose. Side note: Whatever the rulings in the Dayton and Otto lawsuits are, they’re frivolous and extreme wastes of taxpayers’ money. It’s more proof that the DFL doesn’t care about other people’s money.

Wednesday afternoon, Judge John Guthmann ruled that Gov. Dayton’s veto of funding for the legislature was unconstitutional. In his ruling, Judge Guthmann said “The court concludes that the Governor’s vetoes violated the Separation of Powers clause of the Minnesota Constitution because they both nullified a branch of government and refashioned the line-item veto as a tool to secure the repeal or modification of policy legislation unrelated to the vetoed appropriation.”

Judge Guthmann continued, saying “Absent emergency court funding, the effective abolition will exist as long as the Governor decides to veto legislative funding bills submitted to him, which the Governor’s counsel conceded could occur through the remainder of the Governor’s term. The Governor argues that the vetoes abolished or defunded the legislature. However emergency funding is at most a temporary measure to preserve the constitutional rights of the people while the Executive and Legislative Branches resolve their differences. Emergency funding is not a remedy for arguably unconstitutional actions by one branch of government against another.”

Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton immediately announced that he was appealing the ruling within minutes of hearing the ruling:

“Today’s District Court ruling is only a preliminary step in this case’s judicial process. The Stipulation, which the House, Senate, and I filed with the District Court Judge in June, states, ‘The parties agree to jointly seek accelerated review by the Minnesota Supreme Court of the District Court’s order or judgment.’ Accordingly, I have asked Sam Hanson, my legal counsel, to appeal this decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.”

It isn’t required that Gov. Dayton appeal Judge Guthmann’s ruling. Gov. Dayton could simply announce that he isn’t appealing the ruling. Instead, Gov. Dayton has chosen to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a lawsuit he doesn’t have a chance of winning.

Speaker Daudt weighed in:

What’s particularly hurtful to Gov. Dayton was his attorney admitting that this “could occur through the remainder of the Governor’s term.” To be fair, Hanson was put in a difficult, near-impossible situation. That’s what happens when your client is a jackass. Hanson’s argument was weak, though, too:

But Dayton’s attorney says the governor has broad authority to veto appropriations.

I can’t deny that governors have “broad authority to veto appropriations.” That isn’t what Gov. Dayton did in this instance. When he line-item vetoed the legislature’s operating budget, he didn’t just veto an ordinary appropriation. Gov. Dayton also vetoed funding for an entire branch of government. That type of chutzpah can’t be tolerated.

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Hopefully, this will be the final article on the lawsuit between the Legislature and Gov. Dayton that Judge Guthmann will rule on. I’d hate to have to write another post about the SC Times’ dishonest Our View editorial. In that editorial, the Times editors wrote “As you probably recall, Dayton’s unprecedented decision to cut most funds to the Legislature as of Friday ended (or did it?) the 2017 session. He explained his decision as a way to get the Republican-led Legislature to negotiate a handful of measures to which he objected. And most certainly worth noting is that legislation forced Dayton to either accept the Republican tax bill or defund the state Department of Revenue.”

Actually, Gov. Dayton didn’t “cut most funds to the legislature.” As former Attorney Gen. Mike Hatch explained, the funding for the legislature is a single line. It’s a binary choice. It’s all or nothing. Gov. Dayton cut all funds for the legislature. Second, the Times didn’t mention that Gov. Dayton agreed to the tax relief he now wants to renegotiate.

Here’s a message to Gov. Dayton: You agreed to the tax relief. Twice. Now you want to renegotiate the bill you just signed. Instead of using such slippery tactics, try keeping your word instead. Dishonest politicians like you created the Trump administration.

Judge Guthmann ruled that the legislature is part of government’s core function. That means it’ll get funded.

Finally, it’s time to call the SC Times out for making both sides appear culpable for this fiasco. The DFL agreed to these budget deals. If they didn’t like them, they shouldn’t have agreed to them. The GOP tax relief plan provides tax relief to farmers and small businesses. The DFL plan allows government to get bigger and more intrusive.

It isn’t difficult to see which side is on the people’s side and which is on the special interests’ side.

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