A fierce legal battle over the Legislature’s operating budget ended late in the year when the Supreme Court upheld Gov. Mark Dayton’s line-item veto of the appropriation, choosing to let the state’s legislative and executive branches work out the dispute themselves.
Although the court ruled against them, it was a benchmark case for the team of six attorneys who worked on behalf of the Legislature.
“In her opinion, [Chief] Justice [Lorie] Gildea noted that it was the first time one co-equal branch asked the Supreme Court to decide a dispute with another co-equal branch,” said Doug Kelley of Kelley, Wolter & Scott in Minneapolis. “We had 201 clients from both parties and in both the House and the Senate, so our loyalties were to the Legislature as a whole.”
Joining Kelley on the Legislature’s legal team were the firm’s Steven Wolter, Daniel Scott, Kevin Magnuson and Brett Kelley, and David Herr, of Maslon.
The court’s ruling overturned a lower court decision that said Dayton’s action was unconstitutional. The court also said the Legislature has the authority to tap enough money to continue operating — at least $26 million and up to $40 million — until it reconvenes Feb. 20.
“We made our points,” said Kelley. “It was a case that was certainly unlike any other I’ve worked on.”