It isn’t a stretch to think that Gov. Dayton’s appointees to the Minnesota Supreme Court ran interference for him today. Though MPR’s article on this morning’s oral arguments doesn’t highlight it, Justices Lillehaug and Hudson asked some questions of Doug Kelley. Kelley represented the legislature in this matter.

Justice Lillehaug and Justice Hudson “pressed Doug Kelley, the attorney for the Legislature, on why legislative leaders adjourned their special session without waiting for Dayton to act on the bills they passed.” That isn’t a constitutional question. That’s a political question.

When Kelley tried talking about Dayton’s reason for line-item vetoing the legislature’s biennial budget, Lillehaug insisted that going into a person’s motives were off-limits. In this situation, though, Lillehaug didn’t think asking about the legislature’s adjournment was off-limits. If the legislature’s motives for adjourning were fair game, Gov. Dayton’s motives for his line-item veto should be fair game, too.

Gov. Dayton’s reason for vetoing the legislature’s budget is relevant because Gov. Dayton wanted to tip negotiations into his favor. Complicating matters is the fact that the legislature and Gov. Dayton had signed a contract specifying that there wouldn’t be any amendments to any of the bills, that the dollar figures and policy provisions were fixed and the legislative language was read before the contract was signed.

In many ways, then, the agreement is a legally binding contract. Gov. Dayton vetoing the legislature’s funding with a line-item veto is breaking that contract. The legislature had agreed to compromise on some of their priorities if Gov. Dayton compromised on some of his priorities.

Once the caucus leaders and Gov. Dayton signed that contract, the implication is that signing bills that lived up to the contract was expected as part of that agreement.

The biggest worry that the legislature has is that Gov. Dayton’s appointees will side with him out of political loyalty, not because that’s what the Constitution demands. Simply put, the worry is that they’re Democrat operatives first and that ruling on the side of the Constitution is a distant priority.

From an historical and biographical perspective, Lillehaug is a hardline progressive:

One Response to “Gov. Dayton’s political appointees”

Leave a Reply