Upping the ante in his crusade to anoint Democrat Al Franken the next senator from Minnesota, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is blaming Senate Republican leader John Cornyn for the impasse that has left Minnesotans minus one senator for five months now.
Responding to rumblings that Democrats might try to steamroll Franken’s coronation, Cornyn has threatened to start “World War III” unless Coleman is allowed to exhaust all of his legal options -- including an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Texas Senator also has warned that Republicans will filibuster any premature attempt to seat Franken.
Reid spokesman Jim Manley told Politico.com on Thursday: “It’s not fair to the people of Minnesota to be represented by only one senator, and it’s about time a senator from Texas stop telling the people of Minnesota what’s best for them. Enough is enough.”
Cornyn and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., say they are just trying to ensure no Minnesota citizens are denied their right to have their votes counted.
On Tuesday, the three-judge panel hearing the election contest dealt a crushing blow to Coleman’s chances of retaining his former Senate seat, restricting the counting of new ballots to no more than 400. Coleman’s legal team asked that 1,388 ballots be counted.
Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg described the ruling as “an unprincipled decision that is not supportable by the law.”
Reid has previously suggested Democrats might try to seat Franken before Coleman’s Minnesota appeals run their course. He has since backed down, conceding that Democrats will have to wait for a certificate of election to be issued by the state before it could add Franken to its 58-seat majority in the upper chamber.
Another battle appears to be looming: Reid wants Franken seated immediately once Minnesota’s highest court has ruled on his appeal, and prior to any federal case being filed. The three-judge panel hearing the election contest will make more rulings next week, and has yet to declare a winner in the race. Franken’s official lead is 225 votes.
Legal scholars disagree over whether Franken would have to wait until federal appeals are exhausted as well. On Tuesday, Ginsberg said during a media conference call that the legality of issuing a certificate of election prior to a federal appeal is “an open legal question.”
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