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March 20, 2006
Minnesota DFL Endorses Lying

The Minnesota Senate DFL caucus rallied around their beleaguered leader, Dean Johnson, who claimed in a conversation with clergy that three state Supreme Court justices assured Johnson that they would not rule in favor of same-sex marriage. The Majority Leader had tried to convince the ministers to drop a push to put a constitutional amendment banning gender-neutral marriage up for a referendum with this inside information, but was unaware that the conversation had been taped. When the ministers released the tape, Johnson told the press that he may have "embellished" the conversation, but the members of the Court are having none of this:

In a rare conversation with reporters, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Russell Anderson today said flatly that no member of the court -- including former Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz -- ever spoke to Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson about the state's marriage laws.

Anderson's denial came even as the Senate DFL caucus held an impromptu meeting this morning and gave a unanimous vote of confidence in Johnson as their leader.

That puts Johnson in the position of possibly having to defend an outright fabrication rather than what he last week called an "embellishment" of a conversation he said he'd had with a justice. A tape that surfaced last week had Johnson telling a group of pastors in January that he'd talked with at least three justices and received assurances that they would not overturn the state's law and allow same-sex marriage.

As the week wore on, Johnson recanted many of the details on tape, saying ultimately that he had talked with only one justice about the state's marriage law in a chance encounter in the Capitol rotunda late last year. But Johnson never backed off his assertion that a conversation had occured and that the topic of same-sex marriage had come up. ...

Calling from an out-of-state family vacation, Anderson told reporters emphatically that "I have talked with every member of my court, including the former chief justice and we have not had conversations with Sen. Johnson about DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) or how we might decide any matter relating to it. This just never happened. It [the alleged conversation] never occurred."

This puts the DFL in the position of calling the Supreme Court justices dishonest, because someone's lying about this supposed conversation. It's hard to imagine that Anderson would have bothered to call in from vacation just to shoot Johnson down unless he feels very strongly that the reputation of his court has been besmirched. On the other hand, Johnson's story keeps changing, usually a pretty sure sign of dishonesty.

The Minnesota DFL should pat itself on the back. It's given its vote of confidence to a man who lied to ministers in order to gain a political advantage in a fight that already bodes ill for his party. Now he has to explain why the DFL won't allow the voters of Minnesota to decide on this amendment, and he has zero credibility with which to make the case. Thanks to their silly and short-sighted action, his caucus has taken Johnson's credibility deficit and made themselves a part of it. For some reason, the DFL felt it necessary to endorse a man who just got caught lying to his constituents for his political gain -- a position that the GOP will ensure remains in the public debate in the fall elections.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 20, 2006 6:16 PM

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