Pinch hitters could be called up to help the Minnesota Supreme Court handle Norm Coleman’s election-contest appeal if more justices recuse themselves.
Two of the seven high-court justices have already said they won’t deliberate on the case. That’s because Chief Justice Eric Magnuson and Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson served on the State Canvassing Board that oversaw the statewide recount between former Sen. Coleman and his Democratic challenger, Al Franken.
Now court observers are asking whether three more justices might be moved to recuse themselves from Coleman’s appeal. Justices Lori Gildea and Christopher Dietzen donated to Coleman campaigns, while Helen Meyer gave money to Sen. Paul Wellstone, whom Coleman challenged in 2002.
Court spokesman John Kostouros tells the Minnesota Independent that the court needs a quorum of four justices. The court’s practice, in the “pretty unusual” circumstance of coming up short due to multiple recusals, is to recruit substitutes to fill out the court.
Kostouros also notes that it takes three justices to agree to accept a petition to hear a case in the first place.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow observed that a bare quorum could theoretically split 2-2 on the already nearly tied Franken-Coleman election.