Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dean Johnson comment update

Posted by Craig Westover | 4:07 PM |  

My column in today’s Pioneer Press is growing legs. Earlier today I did a call-in with Ron Rosenbaum & Mark O'Connell on KSTP Radio. I did not reveal to them the specific names of state Supreme Court justices identified by Sen. Dean Johnson as those that told him that the Court would not hear a case challenging Minnesota’s marriage statute.

I do not believe that Johnson is telling the truth about talking with Court members, and therefore, I don’t think it necessary or advisable to falsely defame members of the state Supreme Court with false accusations. If Johnson did talk with judges and they did say what he claims they said, then it is up to Johnson to make that statement.

Johnson was not quick to do so, and the names of the justices are now public knowledge. I have linked to audio of Johnson’s remarks here.

As might be expected, the GOP has jumped on this issue.

Republican Party of Minnesota Calls on Dean Johnson to Come Clean With Minnesotans

Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Ron Carey today released the following statement:

"Craig Westover's stunning piece in today's Pioneer Press raises deeply troubling questions about Dean Johnson's judgment and win at all costs attitude.

"According to an audiotape obtained by Westover, Dean Johnson stated that he had spoken to members of the state Supreme Court and received assurances they were not likely to hear a challenge to the state's existing marriage statute.

"Serious questions about the conduct of the Senate Majority Leader need to be answered: did he discuss potential court cases with Supreme Court members and does he believe it is ethical to do so?"

Although I disagree with the Republican position on the Defense of Marriage Amendment, the GOP is right regarding Johnson. Now that the names of the judges whose integrity has been questioned are public, Dean Johnson needs to issue a more specific response clearing the justices he named or affirming that he is telling the truth and those justices did, indeed, discuss how a challenge to Minnesota's marriage statute would be handled by the Court.

However, let's not lose sight of the larger issue in a partisan rush. Affirming the integrity of the Court is the only acceptable outcome of this story.