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'Friends' join photo ID legal battle

Posted by: Jim Ragsdale Updated: June 15, 2012 - 4:01 PM

The Minnesota Legislature will be allowed to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the language of one of its top priorities -- a proposed photo ID constitutional amendment.

The decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court also allowed groups to participate in the lawsuit by filing "amicus" briefs to support their side in the dispute. These include the city of St. Paul and AARP, which oppose the photo ID constitutional amendment, and Minnesota Majority and the bill sponsors, who support the amendment.

The organizations will be commenting on a lawsuit filed against Secretary of State Mark Ritchie by the League of Women Voters and other groups opposed to the measure requiring voters to show a photo ID. Their suit contends that the language of a proposed constitutional amendment that voters will consider in November does not accurately and fairly reflect the changes that will be inserted into the Minnesota constitution if the amendment passes.

The court has scheduled oral arguments for July 17. It issued orders this week on requests to join the suit by parties on both sides.

The House and Senate were granted status in the suit as "intervenors," meaning the Legislature will participate as a party to the lawsuit and will be able to participate in oral arguments. Republican leaders in the Legislature, who guided the photo ID amendment onto the ballot, sought the status to defend what they see as an important measure to deter fraud at the polls.

The have hired an outside attorney to represent their interests, and will carry the chief burden in defending the amendment. Ritchie, a DFLer who adamantly opposes photo ID, said he will not take a position or file a brief, even though he is the named defendant. The Office of the Attorney General, which was to represent Ritchie in the case, notified the court it is no longer doing so.

Other groups that were granted the right to file "amicus" briefs are the City of St. Paul, Citizens for Election Integrity-Minnesota, the St. Paul Branch of the NAACP and the Hennepin County Attorney's Office. The sponsors of the bills, Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, and Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, were allowed to file "amicus" briefs.

 

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