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Mick Jagger and the Minnesota Supreme Court

It would likely come as no surprise to Mick Jagger’s professors at the London School of Economics that their student was destined for great things. But even they could not have foreseen his contribution to Minnesota jurisprudence.

Monday’s Supreme Court arguments were winding down in Gov. Mark Dayton’s appeal to have his legislative budget line-item vetoes ruled constitutional, when his attorney, Sam Hanson, pointed to case law to suggest a governor is under no obligation to sign onto every penny of spending a Legislature approves for itself.

His case in point was 1976’s Clerk Of Court’s Compensation For Lyon County v. Lyon County Commissioners. In that case, Hanson said, the state Supreme Court ruled that a budget appropriation and core funding are not necessarily the same thing.

That decision determined that the test “is not relative needs or judicial wants, but practical necessity in performing the judicial function.” Or so Hanson wrote in his brief. In court it came out a little differently.

“In the Lyon County case, the court said that [core funding] doesn’t mean you get what you want, it only means you get what you need to stay functioning,” Hanson said.

Hanson appeared not to recognize the similarity of his words to a classic Rolling Stones lyric. But Justice David Lillehaug, who had the words to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (almost) down pat, did.

“Is the rule of law that you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you can get what you need?” Lillehaug said to a burst of laughter.

Either Hanson is not hip to the Stones, or his deadpan is impeccable. “That would be a good rule of law,” he said, before quickly moving onto another point.

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