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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