Franken/Coleman: former justice isn't surprised by lengthy processby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — It's been two weeks since the Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments in the legal battle between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken in the state's unresolved U.S. Senate race.
And there's still no ruling.
Former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Jim Gilbert told MPR's Morning Edition he's not surprised by the delay, but expects the judges will issue their ruling by July 4.
"I thought it would take them between 30 and 60 days to do the final opinion," Gilbert said.
On June 1, the date of the hearing, the justices all met immediately afterward in conference, and that's the date that they voted their preference.
"But then the real writing process starts after that," he said. "To draft the opinion and to circulate that and to make sure all the research is done correctly. So it does take a little time."
The state's senate race is the longest running recount in Minnesota history.
The five justices have to determine whether they will grant Coleman's request to force a lower court to revisit the ruling of a three-judge panel that put Franken ahead by 312 votes.
Gilbert said when he was on the court from 1998 to 2004, it took an average of 70 to 75 days to get most opinions out. After one of the justices writes the draft opinion, the others must then review and comment on it--a process that can lead to agreement or dissent.
"And if that happens, too, that slows the process down even more," he said.
Gilbert said because there's no real pressure, or legal deadline, the court can take as long as it needs to issue the order.
"I know everybody's anxious to get an answer, but there's no statutory deadline that has to be met," he said.
If Coleman loses, he can petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, which may or may not take the case.