The MN Supremes issued their first order of the Franken-Coleman election contest appeal case this morning. It’s a nothing order, just granting a motion to allow Franken’s out-of-state attorneys to participate in the case (necessary because they don’t otherwise have privileges in a Minnesota case). But it also puts to rest any speculation about which justices will and won’t be recusing themselves on this matter.
Chief Justice Eric Magnuson and Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson recused. As per normal practice, they don’t say why, but the reason is obvious: They sat on the Minnesota Canvassing Board, whose decisions will be part of the appellate case. Their recusals were totally expected.
It also indicates that several others justices, who might have had some reason to consider recusing themselves, have decided to participate in the case. Justice Christopher Dietzen, an active Republican before his appointment to the bench, had contributed to Norm Coleman’s Senate campaign. Justice Lorie Gildea donated to Coleman when he ran for governor in 1998. Justice Helen Meyer donated to several Democrats (not Franken, but including Paul Wellstone, Coleman’s opponent in the 2002 Senate race). And Justice Alan Page, who appointed the three-judge election contest panel whose work will be reviewed by the Supremes, will apparently participate in the appeal.
This all seems reasonable to me. Perhaps the law that governs the creation of the state Canvassing Board in special elections should be a fresh look, to see whether having two Supreme Court justices sit on the board is such a good idea, considering the decent possibility that the Board’s work will later be reviewed by the Supremes.