Editorial: Supreme Court sensible with mediation order

Published 10:07 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Minnesota Supreme Court acted in the interests of Minnesotans where the governor and Legislature could not when it ordered mediation in a dispute that threatened to make Minnesota government dysfunctional.

The court gave the Legislature and the governor a reprieve of sorts to come to compromise Minnesotans expected five months ago.

The court ruled that Gov. Mark Dayton’s veto of the Legislature’s budget was constitutional, but it stopped short of giving Dayton any kind of clear victory. Instead, it ordered Dayton and the Legislature to set up mediation to resolve their differences in state finances and funding the Legislature.

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There was no dissenting opinion on the court of four Democratic appointees and two Republican appointees.

Dayton vetoed funding for the Legislature at the end of the session in May after the GOP majority implanted a poison pill by stealth in a tax bill that linked funding for the Department of Revenue to Dayton signing the tax bill. He signed the bill, but then used his line-item veto power to cut the Legislature’s funding.

The Legislature also adjourned quickly so even if Dayton had the inclination to object to the provision and negotiate then and there, he would have no opportunity to do so.

The GOP brought suit arguing the move violated the separation of powers clause in the constitution, and it won a district court ruling in its favor. Dayton appealed and the Supreme Court gave him and his team the opportunity to renegotiate with Republicans without striking down the district court ruling.

In fact, the Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea, appointed by GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty, stated that “constitutional powers may not be used to accomplish an unconstitutional result.”

She also noted that without a resolution Minnesota may be denied their constitutional rights of three branches of government.

Minnesotans see through the chicanery of last-minute legislative game playing and they’re sick of it. Republicans and Dayton need to resolve this issue and they need to resolve it quickly keeping in mind the interests of all Minnesotans.

— Mankato Free Press, Sept. 9

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