TPM News

The Minnesota Supreme Court has just issued its order establishing a schedule for Norm Coleman's appeal of the Senate election result -- and even though this schedule has been expedited by the standards of normal civil litigation, it's going to be a while by political standards.

The court adopted the proposed briefing timeline from the Coleman campaign, allowing them more time to formulate their arguments: Coleman's brief is to be submitted by next Thursday, April 30; Team Franken will submit its brief by May 11, and a reply brief from Coleman is to be submitted by May 15.

On top of that, oral arguments have been scheduled for June 1 -- a month and a week from today.

Team Franken had called for a much quicker schedule, on the grounds that greater speed was needed in order to seat a second U.S. Senator from Minnesota, and that Coleman had already had plenty of time to come up with his arguments. But the court didn't go for it.

Indeed, by any normal measure this timeline is itself a quick one for a state Supreme Court to be taking an appeal. But for the political world, this is not a normal case.

Late Update: Lead Franken attorney Marc Elias gives us this comment: "We are grateful that the court has issued an expedited scheduling order, and we look forward to the process continuing to move forward so that Sen.-elect Franken can be seated as quickly as possible."

Late Late Update: Coleman legal spokesman Ben Ginsberg released this statement: "We're pleased with the timetable the court has granted to prepare for this historic and consequential case to enfranchise thousands of Minnesota citizens who still wait for their voices to be heard, and their votes to be counted."

A new Rasmussen poll of Pennsylvania finds that Arlen Specter appears to be in serious trouble going into his 2010 primary against conservative challenger Pat Toomey.

The numbers: Toomey 51%, Specter 30%.

Toomey, a former Congressman, previously ran against Specter in the 2004 primary, and made it into a 51%-49% race. Specter has since provided Toomey a huge opening this time thanks to his vote for the stimulus bill. And Pennsylvania is a closed-primary state, too, meaning that Specter faces a conservative base vote.

From the pollster's analysis: "In another sign that could be troubling for Specter, the current poll finds that 79% of Pennsylvania Republicans have a favorable opinion of the "Tea Party" protests against big government spending and higher taxes held across the nation last week. Thirty percent (30%) know someone personally who took part."

The Obama administration will ask the Supreme Court to reconsider a 1986 ruling that police officers cannot question a defendant with representation unless the lawyer is present. In a court brief, the solicitor general said that the decision in Michigan v. Jackson should be overturned because it "serves no real purpose" and defendants should speak to police if they so choose. The judges supporting the ruling say it is especially aimed at poor or developmentally disabled defendants who could be tricked into giving incriminating information to prosecutors without a lawyer present. In the aftermath of the administration's invocation of the "state secrets" privilege, and support for the imprisonment of enemy combatants in Afghanistan, this position has further alienated civil liberties groups. (AP)

Read More →

Al Gore, Newt Gingrich, John Warner To Headline Committee Hearing The House Energy and Commerce Committee will be holding a hearing on climate change at 10 a.m. ET today, featuring an all-star line-up of guests: Former Vice President Al Gore, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and former Sen. John Warner (R-VA). Gore and Warner support various legislation to limit carbon emissions, while Gingrich was added at the last minute, at the request of Republicans, as an individual who is skeptical of the claimed human contribution to climate change.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet with Vice President Biden for lunch at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then at 1:30 p.m. ET, he will speak about higher-education costs, discussing his proposal to end the Federal Family Education Loans program, a government subsidy to banks, in favor of direct government financing.

Read More →

In news that won't shock regular readers of this site, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)--one of three openly gay House members--says he believes that Democrats will wait until 2010 to attempt a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Not only that, but, according to Roll Call, he thinks that's the right way to go. "I believe we should and will do 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' next year," Frank said. "We haven't done the preliminary work, the preparatory work. It would be a mistake to bring it up without a lot of lobbying and a lot of conversation."

The administration has been walking back its vow to repeal DADT for weeks now, to the great frustration of advocates at Human Rights Campaign and the Servicemember's Legal Defense Networks. Gay rights groups hope the issue will be raised when the Senate considers Defense Secretary Robert Gates' budget proposal next month, and their opponents are preparing for just such a contingency.

Is President Obama flipping back again on the subject of how to conduct torture investigations?

His press secretary, Robert Gibbs, told reporters today that Obama no longer favored the idea of a bipartisan commission to probe the issue. "The president determined the concept didn't seem altogether workable in this case," said Gibbs. And the Washington Post, citing anonymous sources, reports that Obama backed away from the position during a "lengthy exchange" earlier yesterday with House Minority Leader John Boehner.*

Read More →

On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider the nomination of Harold Koh to be the State Department Legal Adviser. Koh's March 23 appointment has sent the far right into conniptions, supposedly because of Koh's academic views on the legal issue of transnational justice, and various reports indicate his nomination might be filibustered.

But Koh also has a number of high profile conservative allies, including Reagan OLC-chief, and George W. Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson, and Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Indeed, it's been suggested by some that opposition to Koh is part of a forward-looking campaign to keep Koh off the Supreme Court than a sincere concern for U.S. sovereignty. Perhaps more on that later.

Now that the hearing's been scheduled, Yale University will begin the search for a new Dean.

We can now add another illustrious name to the list of absentee voters whose ballots in the NY-20 special election have been challenged by the campaign of GOP candidate Jim Tedisco: Sam Seder, the liberal talk-radio host with Air America!

Sam posted a message on Twitter yesterday: "NY20th race Tedisco challenged my absentee ballot. 4 days before the election I was jury foreman for a trial in NY20th. Challenge Fail."

The Tedisco camp had previously challenged U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's ballot -- the person that Tedisco is seeking to replace in Congress -- and now Sam is on the list, too.

Read More →

Scott Murphy is creating some more distance between himself and Republican candidate Jim Tedisco in the NY-20 special election. Murphy now leads by 401 votes, compared to a 365-vote lead yesterday.

Some more absentee ballots were counted in the Murphy strongholds of Columbia, Essex, Warren and Washington Counties -- plus the Tedisco stronghold of Saratoga County. And while Tedisco did net 38 votes from the newest ballots in Saratoga, it was more than outstripped by the other places.

Keep in mind that Tedisco actually won the Election Night count by 68 votes -- but by the time we found that out, after errors in the counties' spreadsheets were all double-checked, the absentees had started to come in. And Murphy has been consistently picking up votes during the absentee count.

We've been wondering about something on this whole Jane-Harman/AIPAC story. (For the background, go here.)

When the Justice Department heard Harman on the wiretap, and as a result started to investigate her (a probe later reportedly shut down by Alberto Gonzales), what was the underlying crime she was suspected of, and how strong does the case against her appear to have been?

Read More →

TPMLivewire