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Supreme Court dismisses GOP senators’ claim

Jake Grovum//June 22, 2011

Supreme Court dismisses GOP senators’ claim

Jake Grovum//June 22, 2011

Erick Kaardal says government funding during a shutdown is unconstitutional; he filed a similar case in the 2005 shutdown that was dismissed. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

The Minnesota Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by four GOP senators that sought to block any state money from being spent in the event of government shutdown July 1.

The court, however, dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, refusing to rule on its merits. The Supreme Court’s two-page opinion, written by Justice Alan Page,  says the lawsuit didn’t satisfy the circumstances necessary to require the high court to act on the matter before it was decided at a lower level.

Essentially, the opinion says no state funds had been ordered to be spent, and therefore the court didn’t have a reason to yet step in to stop it. Gov. Mark Dayton and Attorney General Lori Swanson had petitioned the Supreme Court to dismiss the claim on similar grounds.

The argument will for now be solely at play in the court of Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin, which is set to get underway tomorrow. In that case, though, the argument will be made through a separate filing and carried by a different attorney. The original case can also be brought back to the Supreme Court at a later time.

The Supreme Court suit, brought by conservative attorney Erick Kaardal and Sens. Warren Limmer, chair of the Judiciary Committee, Scott NewmanSean Nienow and Roger Chamberlain, argued that it would unconstitutional for any state money to be spent unless it was properly approved by the Legislature. The senators filed a brief yesterday in the Ramsey County case, represented by GOP attorney Fritz Knaak.

“As I read the order, the option it gives my clients is to refile after the Ramsey County District Court issues an order to disburse funds absent an appropriation by law,” Kaardal said this afternoon after the opinion was released. “My sense when I drafted the petition was that it’s better to be early than to be late, as we were told we had been in 2005. And as it turns out, we were a little early this time.”

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