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Senate case to stretch into June

Former Sen. Norm Coleman sits in a courtroom in the Minnesota Judicial Center. Pool photo by Ben Garvin, St. Paul Pioneer Press.

ST. PAUL - Minnesota will go at least until June without a second U.S. senator.

The Minnesota Supreme Court's schedule to hear Norm Coleman's Senate election appeal sets oral arguments for June 1. In the meantime, Coleman's and Democrat Al Franken's campaigns will submit written briefs reflecting their positions on the appeal.

Coleman, who wants the state's highest court to overturn Franken's victory largely because of an absentee ballot dispute, must submit his initial arguments by April 30. Franken must respond by May 11, and then Coleman has a May 15 deadline to reply.

The court will hear the campaigns' arguments 9 a.m. June 1.

Coleman's campaign had proposed a May 15 deadline for written briefs, while Franken wanted a quicker schedule with briefs to be filed by early May.

"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," Franken attorney Marc Elias said.

Coleman's was satisfied with the schedule.

"We're pleased that the court has granted an appropriate amount of time 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," Coleman spokesman Tom Erickson said.

Only five of the seven jurists are expected to consider the case. Chief Justice Eric Magnuson and Justice G. Barry Anderson are not taking part in the appeal because they served on the state Canvassing Board that certified vote results showing Franken won the election.

Coleman challenged that board's ruling in an election contest, which involved a seven-week trial. A three-judge panel that presided over the trial declared Franken won the election by 312 votes. Coleman is appealing that judicial panel's ruling.

Coleman has not said whether he will take the case to federal court if he loses his state appeal.

As the election litigation continues, Minnesota is represented in the Senate by Democrat Amy Klobuchar.