Republicans want Coleman to take fight to SCOTUS

Even with a Minnesota court's ruling expected soon, the legal battle between the former senator and challenger Al Franken might drag on.

Published March 17, 2009 10:30PM (EDT)

The two parties warring over the question of just who the hell won Minnesota's senate election last November finished their legal arguments last week, and their case is currently being considered by a state court. A ruling could come soon, but even that might not bring closure to the debate -- some people in the GOP are reportedly pushing now-former Sen. Norm Coleman to continue his fight, even taking it to the Supreme Court if necessary.

"Top Republicans are encouraging Coleman to be as litigious as possible and take his fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if he loses this round, believing that an elongated court fight is worth it if they can continue to deny Democrats the 59th Senate seat that Franken would represent," Politico's Manu Raju reports.

Moreover, Raju says, the Republicans advancing this idea are looking to an infamous precedent -- Bush v. Gore, the case that ended the recount in Florida following the 2000 presidential election. Raju quotes Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, as saying, "The Supreme Court in 2000 said in Bush v. Gore that there is an equal protection element of making sure there is a uniform standard by which votes are counted or not counted, and I think that’s a very serious concern in this instance." Other prominent GOP senators have also made similar arguments.

In the same article, though, Eric Schultz, the communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, makes an important observation regarding how far the GOP is willing to take this: "At some point, Republican senators have to be concerned about Sen. McConnell using their resources for a losing cause in 2008, rather than defending incumbents in 2010."

There's a finite amount of money out there for senatorial candidates, and there's likely to come a time when the cost-benefit analysis between denying Democrats the extra seat now and holding their own seats in the near future will likely begin to weigh heavy on Republicans' minds. The most important question is likely to be when that time comes, and if Coleman can -- if he wants -- make it to the Supreme Court by then.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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