ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit from Republican state senators who argued that a district court lacked authority to order continued state spending during last summer’s government shutdown.

Six of the seven high court justices agreed that the question is moot because the July shutdown lasted only 20 days. Justice Alan Page dissented, saying the court should settle the question once and for all. He noted the state came close to a shutdown in 2001, had one in 2005 and again in 2011.

“Although I share the court’s hope that the other branches of government will ‘put mechanisms in place that would ensure that the district court is not again called upon to authorize expenditures by executive branch agencies in the absence of legislative appropriations,’ I do not share its optimism,” Page wrote, quoting the majority opinion written by Chief Justice Lorie Gildea.

Republican Sen. Warren Limmer and colleagues had sued to block the court-ordered spending on items a judge ruled essential to preserving the health and safety of citizens. The senators argued that only the executive and legislative branches of state government have the authority to order spending of state dollars. When the lawsuit was not resolved before the end of the shutdown, the justices ordered the plaintiffs to show why the matter should not be considered moot.

In the ruling Wednesday, the majority said they failed to do so. “The constitutional questions posed by this case … will not arise again unless the legislative and executive branches fail to agree on a budget to fund a future biennium,” Gildea wrote. She also noted lawmakers could pass legislation to avoid future shutdowns by maintaining state spending at a previous level, as some lawmakers have suggested.

Page suggested that was putting too much faith in the governor and state lawmakers, and put the state at risk of future constitutional crises.

“Once the judicial branch is perceived to be part of the political process, we have put at risk the independence of the judiciary,” he wrote.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (8)
  1. Jake says:

    For ONCE, I competely agree with Justice Alan Page. There is NO WAY that a COUNTY, DISTRICT JUDGE should be ruling in this arena, especially in a NEO-lib area like St. Paul, which is FULL of state employees. The bias is so obvious, it defies all imaginable forms of reality and wisdom. Expect the nonsense of state gov’t shutdowns to happen more often in the future. They are already talking about a budget shortfall NEXT year, and NOW, dayton wants to unionize child care workers. Will they be ‘shutdown’ the next time the state shuts down??

  2. Mike says:

    Once again Republicans over reach of power leads to another embarrassing waste of time and not doing what they were elected to do; create jobs.
    The authoritative ruling party and Warren Limmer need to pull their heads out of their derriere and do something constructive instead of running to the courts to settle their stupid, misguided tantrums. Stop wasting our money and work on some productive legislation to help the people who are your constituents instead of either driving a wedge into people through some hot button social issue or ideologically driven economic position that helps a few and never has been proven to work.

    1. Jake says:

      BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. So you are saying that the GOP (which has a legitimate constituency, BTW) shouldn’t have the right to challenge how the governor (ONE MAN) should decide exactly WHAT gets funded and WHAT does not, during a government shutdown? Pretty scary stuff, indeed. How much money was ‘wasted’ during the shutdown, when the state was still funding NON-ESSENTIAL programs, when it was supposed to be ‘shut down’??

      1. Mike says:

        Challenge what Jake? Everyone with an iota of common sense could see this one coming. The court challenge was thrown out by a majority. Get it, loser?

        1. Jake says:

          @Mike, you have just demonstrated the FLAW in your arguement. The courts shouldn’t necessarily be deciding on any case based on POLLS, or which party has a majority. They should be deciding on the MERITS OF THE LAW(S), PERIOD. That’s called ‘impartiality’, a term I guess you are not familiar. That’s why we are not a true democracy, but a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC, so rebels like YOU can’t stage a riot and start a coup, HERE.

          1. Jason says:

            OOOHHHH DAMMNNNNN! @ Jake @ Mike.

  3. Murph says:

    They also found that there are no GOP POTUS candidates who know how to keep their members in their pants, except Bachmann who MIGHT not have one!.

    1. See BS says:

      John Edwards channelled the spirit of a dead fetus in a courtroom. That’s because we have a court system doing anything they want.

      Article 3 of the State of Minnesota Constitution is in plain black and white.

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