On our radio show yesterday, we spent the first hour talking mostly about Russ Feingold’s censure resolution and the newly-released documents from Iraq and Afghanistan. On the latter topic, we interviewed Michael Tanji, who was in charge of one of the groups that carried out the Iraqi document exploitation project. Michael has his own site dealing with intelligence-related issues here. You can listen to an edited podcast of our first hour here.
During our second hour, we talked about a local scandal with potential national implications. The Majority Leader of the Minnesota Senate, Democrat Dean Johnson, has bottled up a proposed marriage-related constitutional amendment, refusing to let it come to a vote in the Senate, for the past two years. (It has already passed the House.) One of the arguments against the amendment is that Minnesota already has a Defense of Marriage Act, so opponents of the constitutional amendment say it is redundant and unnecessary. Proponents of the amendment say that, in view of what happened in Massachusetts, only an amendment to the state’s Constitution will be secure. This is similar, of course, to what is happening in a number of other states.
Recently, Johnson tried to reassure a group of ministers who asked him about the proposed amendment by assuring them that he had discussed the issue with every member of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and the justices had unanimously told him that they would not overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. He quoted the outgoing Chief Justice as saying, “We have to stand for election too.”
Unfortunately for Johnson, one of the ministers taped his comments. We played the tape on our show. What Johnson told the ministers was untrue; he now admits that he did not have such a conversation with any of the justices, let alone all of them–which would, of course, be unethical on the Justices’ part, and also, i would think, on Johnson’s.
Johnson is in full retreat, and the episode has exposed the DFL Party’s desperation to keep the marriage amendment off the ballot in November. Why is this incident potentially important outside of Minnesota? Because we have two key races coming up in the fall. The Republicans’ best hope for a takeaway in the Senate is Mark Kennedy’s race for the open seat being vacated by Mark Dayton. And Mark’s old House seat, the 6th District, is one the Democrats almost have to win if they intend to recapture control of the House. Both of these races could tip into the Republican column if the marriage amendment is on the ballot. That’s what the Democrats think, anyway, and that explains why Dean Johnson went to the extraordinary length of falsely impugning the integrity of the entire Minnesota Supreme Court.
To listen to an edited podcast of our second hour, go here.
And, as always, you can subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes by going here. Be forewarned, though; it takes a few days for podcasts to show up on iTunes.