Minnesota Supreme Court: Franken won

MINNESOTA SUPREME COURT: FRANKEN WON…. In a unanimous ruling issued this afternoon, the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected former Sen. Norm Coleman’s argument and agreed that Al Franken won the Senate race held last November.

The courts finds that “Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled under Minn. Stat. 204C.40 (2008) to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota.” This means that when Franken is ultimately seated, the Democrats will have 60 seats and be able to beat any Republican filibuster if they stay completely united (though good luck with that, obviously.)

It’s been seven and a half months since Election Day, and five and a half months since the seat went vacant after Coleman’s term expired — but the state’s process of recounts and litigation is now over, barring the unlikely event of a higher authority stepping in and forcing them to do more. Franken has won by 312 votes, out of roughly 2.9 million — a difference of 0.011%.

The full ruling is online here.

The unanimous ruling obviously resolves one big question, but we still don’t know exactly what will happen next. As we discussed yesterday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said he would certify Franken’s victory if instructed to do so. The state Supreme Court, however, said Franken is “entitled … to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator,” which Pawlenty may very well try to weasel out of.

Coleman, for that matter, now has to decide whether to keep filing more lawsuits, taking his case to the federal courts after having lost repeatedly in the state courts. He’ll likely be encouraged to do just that by the RNC and NRSC, regardless of the will of the voters or the impact on Minnesotans.

And speaking of Minnesotans, recent polling shows the vast majority of the state expecting Coleman to go away if he lost at the state Supreme Court. In the wake of this unanimous ruling, the demands for him to end this will likely be overwhelming. Whether he cares or not remains to be seen.

Should Coleman do the right thing, the impact on Capitol Hill will be significant, with Franken becoming the Democratic Senate caucus’ 60th member.