Minn. Supreme Court Hears Argument On Budget Battle

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — There was a historic first at the Minnesota Supreme Court on Monday.

The High Court livestreamed its hearing for the first time, and it was a big one.

WCCO’s Pat Kessler reports on the Minnesota Legislature suing Governor Mark Dayton. The inaugural livestream of the Minnesota Supreme Court showed justices active, engaged and a little impatient.

Chief Justice Lorie Gildea interrupted the Governor’s lawyer, leading the High Court through 80 minutes of aggressive questioning of both sides.

“If it’s constitutional, as you suggest, for the Governor to take away funding for the Legislature, why is it constitutional for the Legislature to give the money back to the Legislature?” Gildea said.

The House and Senate are suing the Governor because they say he did not have the right to veto all of the Legislature’s operating funds in a budget dispute.

“The Governor did disagree with the appropriation because he said we have these remaining issues, and your work is not done,” Sam Hanson, Dayton’s lawyer, said.

“They are in essence without a remedy and that’s why we had to come to this court. And that’s why you should step in to break this impasse. My clients have both hands tied behind their back,” Doug Kelley, the lawyer for Republican lawmakers, said.

Governor Mark Dayton attended the High Court hearing, as did Republican leaders in the House and Senate. Both making their case outside the courtroom.

“You can read clear and simple, the language of the Constitution, which gives me the line item veto authority,” Dayton said.

“If they did rule in the Governor’s favor, he suddenly has more power than he’s ever had before,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said.

A spokesman for the Supreme Court says there is no timetable for issuing a decision. However, the Legislature runs out of money on Oct. 1.

More from Pat Kessler
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