The Dan Griffith campaign for Minnesota Supreme Court should scare independents and Democrats.

It is interesting how many views I’ve had of the post I wrote on the Minnesota Supreme Court primary.  I feel like most of the people reading it must be Dan Griffith supporters since his supporters keep commenting.  Regardless of their comments, my view has not changed.

This is Dan Griffith’s third attempt at election for judge.  This year he is challenging Justice Gildea for Supreme Court.  In 2008 and in 2010 Griffith ran for the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  He is becoming a perennial candidate, and a candidate common-sense voters need to avoid.

Despite what he claims, there are two important facts for indpendents and Democrats to consider.  First, he was endorsed by the Republican Party and the Constitution Party, not the DFL Party.  Second, according to an outspoken TEA Partier and a claimed “Patriot and true American” Dan Griffith has “affirmed his commitment to the positions, Values and Principles consistent with those of WE THE PEOPLE of the American TEA Party Movement!”

That should immediately scare away people who believe in Democratic Party principles or people who believe everybody should be treated equally and with respect – liberty and justice FOR ALL.

Dan is defending himself with empty explanations.  He is trying to play both sides.  He is far enough to the right that Republicans endorsed him, but he and his staff and volunteers are claiming the Democrats should support him.  I disagree.

I know a good Democrat who won in a conservative district by using typical Republican buzz phrases.  The buzz phrases were basically the same for both parties, but the definitions were different.  When both talked of lower taxes, the candidate on the right talked in general terms of lower taxes without accounting for how to deal with the lost revenue.  The candidate on the right talked about lower taxes with a plan to expand the tax base, spread the responsibility more fairly, and make more responsible decisions about spending.  The candidate on the left won in the conservative district, and did exactly what he said he would do.  Republicans called him a liar and claimed he pretended to believe in Republican values as a candidate, when in reality, they only listened to the superficial arguments, without going into detail of what he meant.

I believe Dan Griffith is stealthily courting the religious right, hardcore Republicans and TEA Partiers, while using arguments and buzz phrases that might appeal to independents and even Democrats.  But I believe all indications are that he ultimate goal is got elected and be an activist judge for the far-right.

The only proof I need is his conversation with an extremist right-wing media host when he said regarding abortion or immigration that you can have the “right person” in the legislature, but a judge can overturn the laws the legislature makes.

Our Supreme Court Judges have the ultimate responsibility to uphold our constitution, not to rewrite it based on their religious or political beliefs.  I will gladly vote for a Tim Pawlenty appointed judge over a candidate like Dan Griffith who seems to be running on some sort of mission to make Minnesota, and probably the United States a country where people with certain beliefs are not welcome.

(And before Dan Griffith or any Dan Griffith supporters comment on this post, Dan Griffith should answer why he received Republican endorsement, what his beliefs are on a woman’s freedom to make choices about her own body, whether he thinks everybody deserves the same rights regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, and if Dan thinks my grandmother needs an ID to vote.)


48 thoughts on “The Dan Griffith campaign for Minnesota Supreme Court should scare independents and Democrats.”

  1. Steve,
    What is most interesting is that you are still afraid to call Dan Griffith and talk to him yourself! That is most insightful.

    It is misleading when your proof is a quote taken from one context and misconstrued to apply in another. Democrats can also get the “right person” elected to the legislature and still have the laws they pass overturned by a partisan, judicial activist. Who is that “right person” depends on the voter. Voters should have that power. That is where it becomes confusing to partisans.

    Dan does not play stealthy, political games. It does seem that you read his web page though because you quote him almost word for word when you say that “Our Supreme Court Judges have the ultimate responsibility to uphold our constitution, not to rewrite it based on their religious or political beliefs.” Both major parties will benefit from a nonpartisan justice who does not play stealthy, political games and is not a religious zealot.

    Why was he endorsed by the GOP? They pursued him. Same with the Constitution party. Why does the DFL not pursue him? Perhaps they are a little behind in realizing how political the judicial branch has become. They should pursue Griffith as a man who will protect all Minnesotan’s interests on the Supreme Court. Why do DFL tables at fairs accept his material and distribute it? Because they talk to Dan themselves and understand how he represents them.

    Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness “regardless of their gender or sexual orientation” Have you been reading some Griffith material in secret? The Constitution protects an individual’s right to privacy.

    Since the Supreme Court is ruling on Voter ID currently, Dan will comment when appropriate, considering the stringent rules limiting the speech of judicial candidates. I am sure if you call him he can explain this.

    Call him. You will find that with more knowledge you will have to reconsider what you have been trained to believe. Nonpartisan candidates are difficult to label, but we will all benefit from blogs based on full and open discourse and research.

    Wade Sutton
    Griffith Campaign

  2. First off Wade, I am not afraid to contact Dan Griffith, don’t be condescending. That sort of “most insightful” comment is telling. If he wants to convince me, there are probably twenty different places he can find my phone number and email addresses. We are having a district picnic on August 17 from 5:30-8:00. I will be there the entire time. Ask Dan to swing by, he can speak to people there. Antler’s Park in Lakeville on Lake Marion, Picnic Shelter A, $5 per person. Details are on the website.

    Second, the GOP won’t even endorse long-time republicans who are not the “right Republicans.” That argument about the DFL not pursuing him is dumb.

    Third, he stated in a previous comment that even the Green Party had his lit displayed for a while. Why did they remove it? Was it until they realized what he believed?

    He is not a Supreme Court Justice and the rulings will be made before the election. He should and can answer the question. “In Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002), the United States Supreme Court held by a vote of 5 to 4 that a state cannot, consistent with the First amendment, prohibit judicial candidates from announcing their views on disputed legal and political issues.”

    And finally, again, do not be condescending to a person who has the freedom to post an opinion blog, by assuming they have been “trained” a certain way as if your opinion is better constructed in some way.

    1. Steve,

      I am certainly not being condescending when I call you out on inconsistencies. I do not think my opinion is “better.” My conclusions are simply better informed: I have spoken to Dan. The responsibility to seek information is on the shoulders of the author of a blog or article. Give him a call. Your readers deserve it. I teach writing, and it is clear that you have not pursued information before forming your conclusion. Your conclusion, supported by very little, is a response typical of one “trained” by partisan politics. This happens on both sides of the aisle, quick judgements trusting of their leadership. These nonpartisan candidates are just more difficult and take a lot more work for those reporting.

      I believe the Green Party distributed his literature until the fair ended, as fairs tend to do.

      Thank you for the invitation. We will see if Dan can make it. Check out his Facebook page to find out where he will be this weekend if you decide to inform yourself.


      1. You are a piece of work Wade. You don’t see the hypocrisy in the accusations you are making do you? “It’s clear” to you that I have not watched videos of him, many of which were posted by Dan’s campaign. “It’s clear” to you that I have not I’ve not looked at his website. “It’s clear” to you that I have not read articles about him.” I am just a dumb uninformed rube from Farmington surrounded by cows, corn and soybeans. It must be nice to be so enlightened. Have you talked to Barack Obama or Mitt Romney? I bet you have opinions about them. I have opinions about Ghandi, Truman, Stalin, Shackelton, and Jesus too, but I’ll never be able to talk to them, I guess I can’t give my opinion can I? If he wants to change my mind, he can answer the questions I posed, I will write about it. There is no law that says he cannot comment, in fact the US Supreme Court has ruled that judicial candidates have the FREEDOM to answer. So Dan, answer those questions for all to see. I’ll ask them on Twitter too @Quist_Galaxie

      2. It is clear that you did not call Dan even though he made himself available after your last post. That was a mistake and now your conclusion are simply unsupported. The videos are fine, but speaking in person or over the phoone is better. I like Farmington, I live in a small town too, but I am not sure what that has to do with this gap in research.

        Tweeting is not the best way to communicate fully; that is really more for networking and promoting a blog or website. I think this may do that for you, but I still suggest you call. His number is on his web page. He will be at the Carver County Fair in Waconia, Mn this weekend too. And I will call him and let him know of your invitation also.

        Best of luck.

      1. Do you have any guidance from the Minnesota bar or Minnesota statute that you feel is applicable? And if there is such precedent in Minnesota law, why take a position on retention elections?

        Also curious as to how Dan’s statement that “government intrusion in our lives needs to get smaller” informs his legal philosophy. Does he feel, for instance, that the U.S. Supreme Court decided the ACA case correctly?

      2. It is very simple regardless of what Mr. Sutton says. We have already established that he is more enlightened than me, however, I think my low IQ is high enough, or the brainwashing failed enough to say that either Mr. Sutton is lying, or repeating the lies of the candidate who is lying to him. Justice Scalia wrote the Court’s opinion in a 5-4 decision regarding Minnesota’s announce clause, which in the past forbade candidates for judicial office from announcing their views on disputed legal issues, was unconstitutional. You will find it in any law review, heck, a Google search of Republican Party of Minnesota v. White you will probably find thousands of backup, and I’m guessing it will be real law review, not some Broward County Florida online news site.

      3. Sean,

        Canon 5 under the MN Code for Judicial Conduct restricts what a judicial candidate can do.  That is why I refrain from expressing my thoughts on political issues.  Also, I do not think it is appropriate for your Judge to “pre-judge” potential cases, anyway. Judges should listen to the facts, find the truth and apply the LAW, not their personal biases.    When I mention curbing government, I mean government is necessary, but must also be our servant, not our master.  It is like fire.  A fire can heat your home.  It can also burn it down.  
        Retention Elections:
        City Pages published an article that you might find helpful.  Here is the link.
        The retention election concept weakens our vote.   It was proposed in MN after the US Supreme Court ordered the MN Supreme Court to change its election rule that had the impact of keeping people ignorant of their Judges and any judicial challengers.  
        Retention election takes away the most important function of our vote by taking away the right to vote FOR someone.  Under a retention election, one politician appoints the entire judicial branch.  Even if the people remove a judge from office the same single politician controls who is their successor.  What have the people gained?  Under a retention election the elite control who is appointed and even if we the people remove one of their appointees, they control the replacement.  
        We already have the right to vote for our judges under Art. 6, Sec 7 which states, “Judges SHALL be elected by the VOTERS…”  We do not need an amendment to make it weaker.
        Non-Partisan Judges?  You decide.
        When Governor Pawlenty appointed his campaign attorney to the Court of Appeals the Star Tribune commented that it is a common practice for Governors to appoint their political friends.  It stated:
        “Ventura was Minnesota’s only recent governor not to appoint close associates to the state judiciary.  Arne Carlson gave judgeships to his chief of staff, a campaign attorney, his sister-in-law and his attorney in the governor’s office.  Rudy Perpich, Carlson predecessor, named one of his former commissioners to the Supreme Court and his campaign manager to the district bench.”
        Do we really think concentrating the power to select an entire branch of government into the hands of one politician will keep politics out of it?  I trust the people over a politician.  

        I have to be very careful on expressing opinions on issues that could come before the Court including the Affordable Care Act case you mention.
        For your reference a portion of Canon 5 is listed below:
        Canon 5 at paragraph 3 states:  
        (3) A candidate for a judicial office, including an incumbent judge:
        (d) shall not:
        (i) with respect to cases, controversies or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges or promises that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office; or knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, misrepresent the identity, qualifications, expressed position or other fact concerning the candidate, or an opponent; or
        (ii) by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice inappropriate to judicial office.
        (e) may respond to statements made during a campaign for judicial office within the limitations of Section 5A(3)(d).
        I could probably state whether I agree or disagree with a decided case, but would really have to be careful on defending why.   That is why I state my Constitutional judicial philosophy instead.
        I hope this answers your questions, Sean.

        Dan Griffith

  3. Steve,

    First, this is Griffith’s fifth run for a state-wide judgeship. He previously ran and lost in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010. He always ran with either GOP endorsement orwith the support of extreme-right activists.

    Second, it is ridiculous for Griffith to claim that judicial elections should be a nonpartisan matter and for him to deny his slavish obediance to the far-right zealots. A quick search of the internet shows two photos of him from the 2010 campaign. First, he had Michael Brodkorb introduce him at the “Emmer for Governor” monster rally inBlaine. Second, he toured Minnesota onthe “Emmer for Governor” bus.

    Third, the only identified cash contribution this year that Griffith reported in his pre-primary report last week was from a fringe GOP group called the Ninth Judicial District Republican Committee located in Remer, Minnesota.

    As for Wade’s claim that Republicanswere the one’s whopersuaded Griffith to runand not the other way around, look at Griffith’s two YouTube speeches from last spring’s Republican State Convention in ST. Paul, where he whined that he had driven 5.5 hours from International Falls on Friday to seek the endorsement on Friday,and had repeated the trip on Saturday.

    Griffith is a shifty guy, a political hack, and nobody whom we should trust as the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

    1. I said they ask him to speak not pursuade him to run. There were no endorsements at the GOP convention. But there were a lot of people there to hear what he had to say. Dan’s constitutional philosophy will serve all Minnesotans equally well. Invite him to an event, listen, and judge for yourself like the delegates at the convention did. Dan has nothing to hide because he is honest and wants people to vote to their benefit.

      It is clear you do not know Dan if you think him a “political hack” and “shifty.” As for finances, that just started 2 weeks ago. Hold on to that conclusion until later.

  4. Dan, I just want to be clear that you are not using “Canon 5 under the MN Code for Judicial Conduct restricts what a judicial candidate can do” as an excuse for not answering those questions I posed, because it is very clear that according to the Supreme Court of the United States of America you have the freedom to answer those questions. If you don’t have an opinion on these important state issues, or are unwilling to take a stand, then I question whether you have the ability to make decent decisions for the rest of us.

  5. I actually agree with Griffith’s position on judicial retention elections. But the rest of what’s going on here is nonsense.

    First, if you’re worried about judicial retention elections, the place you need to be is in the Legislature, not on the Supreme Court. The Legislature is where that battle is going to be fought. How does Griffith propose to influence the issue of judicial retention elections from the Supreme Court?

    Second, if Canon 5 prevents you from discussing ACA or Voter ID or the marriage amendment issue, how then can you also discuss judicial retention elections? That’s just as much a political issue as these others. And if the Legislature passes new law dealing with judicial elections, won’t it be fair to claim that Griffith has prejudged that issue?

    Third, I’m curious how Griffith’s repeated claims about the need to reduce the side of government jive with the role of being a judge. Does that make him disposed to look unfavorably on laws passed by the legislative branch that are perceived as expansions of government power? Why should I place my trust in a judge who approvingly quotes Ronald Reagan’s “The nine most terrifying words in the English language: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’.” That’s a horrible mindset for judge. The court’s system role is to ensure justice. When you are on the Minnesota Supreme Court, you are form the government and you are here to help.

    Fourth, how are we to square Griffith’s assertions of non-partisanship with who he chooses to be associated with. His Facebook favorites are littered with conservative/libertarians and nary a progressive/liberal to be found. (Included here, by the way, is Minnesota for Marriage — the group leading the fight for the marriage amendment). Here’s the list as of this morning:

    American Family Association, International Falls Broncos, Jason Lewis, Sean Hannity, Barb Davis White for Minnesota, Justice In Minnesota, Mike Rolih for State Representative, Tim Tingelstad for MN Supreme Court, Tea Party Patriots, Dan Griffith, 10Pack: Politically Active Conservative Kids Campaigning in 2010, Lee Byberg for Congress, Dean Urdahl for Minnesota House of Representatives 18B, C. S. Lewis, RAM Country on Yahoo! Music, Yahoo! Music, Minnesota for Marriage, Leaves of Grass Photography, George W. Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Twin Cities News Talk, Dan Gustafson for Delano City Council

    Why should I read this list and take for granted that Griffith will come at judicial issues from a non-partisan bent?

    1. Sean,

      This is what I understand from talking to Dan:

      “How does Griffith propose to influence the issue of judicial retention elections from the Supreme Court?”

      The act of running brings the issue into the public eye. This is what he has been doing. How many people even know that we haven’t first elected a Chief Justice to the Mn Supreme Court since 1895? That we only have one Justice on the Supreme Court who was first elected? That none of our judges on the Court of Appeals have been elected first like the Constitution directs?

      “If Canon 5 prevents you from discussing ACA or Voter ID or the marriage amendment issue, how then can you also discuss judicial retention elections?”

      What makes Retention elections different is that the election of judges is already in our Constitution. A stand against retention elections is a Constitutional position. The current practice is to bypass the intent of the Constitution and make the emergency provision the rule. For this to change it will take a Constitutional amendment which then can only be challenged at the federal level.

      Standing for the Constitution as written is not prejudging. It is a foundational issue like equal treatment under the law regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age…etc. Those issues are portions of cases but clearly protected. It is the political mind that twists it. 

      Size and scope of government:

      The reason we have a Constitution is to limit the growth of government. It is the role of the judiciary to hold the Legislature and Executive in check. Government can only expand within limits. Do you want government telling you who you can marry and with whom you can associate? Do you want government telling you how successful you can be? Do you want government telling you who to vote for (as in the Retention election issue?) or limiting those who can vote just to keep power?  

      The government can be here to help within limits. 


      Dan has his personal beliefs. He never hides these. He is non-partisan when it comes to the law. The law is not political; it should be applied equally.

      Dan does not associate much on Facebook. He doesn’t have time. It is a bit like Twitter in that it is a networking tool. I don’t know why Griffith’s Facebook favorites include few liberals. It is insightful to an extent. His message has always been to any who are interested, but Facebook has not been a really active part of his material. Take what you want from it, but his web page is more informative and you can see how his philosophy is nonpartisan there. Facebook is more for links to articles, relevant quotes,  and to push people to the web site. This Twitter game of Steve’s has been amusing and markets his blog well which I am happy for: the more people who read and then ask genuine questions like you, the better. Dan prefers to speak to people and answer their questions directly.

      In the circles he does participate, he has drawn people who are informed about judicial elections and concerned about the manipulation of the Constitution regarding this. In person these are both liberal and Conservative. I am truly at a loss why my liberal friends do not pay attention to the courts as much as the other issues about which they are passionate. My conservative friends are ignorant about their judges too, come to think of it. It really is a gap that crosses ideological and party lines. the question for me is why someone would vote for a politically appointed judge? Ventura was the only one who did not play that game.

      “Why should take for granted that Griffith will come at judicial issues from a non-partisan bent?”

      You should take nothing for granted. That is why Dan is open for people to call him and will go speak where he is invited. Tonight he will be in Grand Rapids speaking to a Union group. Dan sees personal views as separate from the law. He has told me that law is pretty simple: a judge reads it and applies it. On moral issues (which tend to be partisan), it really is the place for the voter and their legislature. 

      Give him a call. He has been getting quit a few and he will answer your questions as best as he can.


      1. I still don’t see the distinction here between judicial retention elections versus voter ID or the definition of marriage as a political issue. If Griffith is free to defend the Constitution as it stands related to judicial retention, then he’s also free to defend the Constitution as it stands on these other issues. Yet he refuses to do so.

        As far as Griffith’s judicial philosophy, I can’t find anything on his website that gives me any concrete idea of where he comes down on things. So how about a specific past case — the 2010 unallotment case. Does Griffith think this was properly decided? Why or why not?

      2. Sean,

        I will ask him to reply directly to you about those. And he may correct or clarify any reasoning I may have had.


      3. Sean,
        Isn’t the distinction that Voter ID and the definition of marriage, at least the political battle over the titles, is currently before the Mn Supreme Court?

        Also, how do you define “nonpartisan?” For judges, I understand it to be someone who is not invested in any political party, but looks at issues from a broader perspective based on law rather than ideology. Do you agree or are you looking for something more?


      4. Sean,

        If you want to read up on a connection between the unallotment case and this Supreme Court race here is an interesting article:

        I think what you are really looking for is whether Dan Griffith is on YOUR side of how you think this decision should have been made or on the OTHER side. I don’t know which way you would have decided the case, with Gildea or against her. But it doesn’t matter. Dan is really more on the side of the Law. If the people of Minnesota don’t like a law and how it applies to their lives, then they need to fight it out in the legislature and change the law. Then a nonpartisan judge will simply read it and apply it. Politically appointed judges have loyalties other than to “the people” who elected them.

        The article above gives you an idea of how the appointment system really works though. Another piece of evidence that supports Griffith’s claim at nonpartisanship is the fact that he has run 3x against establishment Republican-appointed opponents and against Democratic-appointees the other times. Why would he run if he were a partisan? Wouldn’t he target only political opponents rather than run a nonpartisan campaign?


      5. Sean,
        You raise a good question.  Why can’t Judges clearly state where they stand on specific political issues?  Good Answer—because Judges are not and should not be politicians.  Legal Answer—because Canon 5 under the Code of Judicial Conduct forbids it.  What happens if a judicial candidate violates the election rules?  They not only are in trouble with the Professional Responsibility Board they also could lose their license to practice.  One of the reasons most incumbent judges go unopposed is many lawyers do not want to risk losing their livelihood.  
        What is the distinction between “retention elections” and other political issues you raise?  Article VI, Sec. 7 of the MN Constitution is settled law.  “Judges shall be elected by the voters…”  Therefore, there is no legal case to decide.  The point is the Constitution is not being FOLLOWED in respect to our right to choose our judicial leaders, not whether Art. VI, Sec 7 is constitutional.  The other issues are currently in litigation or could be.  If the issue of “retention elections” was on the ballot and subject to litigation on its constitutionality, then I would not comment on it either.  
        Sean, that is why I stress that I am a constitutionalist rather than a politician giving my opinion on specific political questions.  A constitutionalist APPLIES the law equally.  It should not matter what his/her politics are.  That fact that it does in so many cases is probably why you keep asking for a pledge or promise on what I believe.  I am not a politician and I do not want to be.  The difference between a judge and a politician?  A judge’s job is to listen to the facts of each case (not pre-judge the case), find the truth and APPLY the law, not rewrite it.  When a judge rewrites the law, they have become a politician.

        Dan Griffith

  6. Wade, I agree with your definition of nonpartisan in this context. I just don’t see anything in Griffith’s campaign information — other than his assertions — that leads me to believe he comes at things from a nonpartisan perspective.

    If you don’t want to be perceived as partisan, then don’t do things that are partisan. If a political party seeks you out, you’re not required to return their affections. You don’t have to share the stage with Tom Emmer. Choosing to do these things are going to raise questions.

    1. Or, as in this case, you go to the events to which you are invited whatever the politics because you see the people as the audience, not the party. You are correct about the perception. A politician would build perception carefully. It is because he is nonpartisan that Dan just goes to events where they are interested in judicial races or where he has a chance to speak to make them interested. Most other judicial candidates simply say nothing and act as though there are no elections just incumbent privilege, which is why we know almost nothing about our judicial races. Catch 22.

      1. Doesn’t a judge have to be more worried about perception than a normal politician, not less? We know politicians have agendas. Judges are supposed to be impartial.

      2. A judge should BE impartial and nonpartisan. Not just be perceived as such. I know of no other way of judging whether a person is impartial than talking to them and getting to know them. No one just believes someone is impartial because they say they are or because they work on their public perception. Everyone has their personal biases and beliefs, a good judge will allow others to retain their own under the law.

  7. Wade,

    I certainly have my opinion on the unallotment case. But, frankly, I’m more curious in how Griffith would go about making such a decision. Saying that he’s “on the side of the law” is meaningless.

    Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsberg would both say they are “on the side of the law”, too, but they frequently come to opposite conclusions based on the same facts.

    You can’t say that you just read the law and apply it, because frequently the law as written is vague or sometimes even in conflict with itself. It’s at that point that a judge has do their best to apply that law to that scenario. That’s where it becomes important to dig in and understand how a judge is going to take those messy situations and clear them up.

    Running against a Republican appointment doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Look at all the primary challenges going on in the Legislature as evidence of that fact.


    1. A partisan may challenge in the primary but won’t run in the general election against their own party. What I was referring to we’re general election challenges. A person loyal to a party would not run against a judge who is of their own party. Dan has run against both sides, therefore not of either side.

      If a poorly written or vague law is applied then the judge can comment on the case that the legislature might want to take a look at it since it may have had unintended consequences. The bias belongs in the legislature.

      Dan spoke at a Union meeting last night and is at fairs all weekend. I have pointed your question out to him so when he has time between work and the trail, he can answer. The rules are pretty strict and watched closely so he will answer within the bounds of how he is allowed.

      1. Your logic on the primary challenges doesn’t work because judicial elections are nonpartisan. So, yes, a partisan can only challenge an incumbent in a legislative primary before the general election.

        Your logic on the poorly written law doesn’t work, either. The judge still has to rule on the case that has the poorly written law. He can’t kick it back to the Legislature to have them fix the law first. That’s where it’s important to understand the priorities a judge brings to the bench.

        Here’s another example: Supreme Court justices have more latitude is overturning previous cases than lower-level judges. When does Griffith think it is OK to overturn a precedent?

    2. Sean,

      Out of curiosity, have you asked any of these questions or similar questions of Lorie Gildea? What responses has she given?


      1. I don’t have to ask her. I can read her opinions. I’m not a big fan of hers, but an election is a choice, and if I’m going to replace her I need to know that there’s a better alternative.

      2. Sean,

        I appreciate that you understand the problem with retention elections. I think you are hitting on the issue of the incumbent label on judicial races.
        So why do you think she dissented in the unallotment case?

      3. Sean,

        How many of her opinions have you read? Were there any you took issue with? How would you describe here judicial philosophy?


  8. The logic is sound: a partisan would drop out after a primary for a legislative race because they are loyal to the party. A non partisan, if they wanted to continue to run, could have their name on the ballot just not under that party affiliation. It would be like Hillary Clinton running as an Independent. But she is loyal to party.

    You are correct that a judge has to rule on a case. But the logic is sound here too. It is the process that gets muddied. Laws applied by the letter don’t diverge. It is when judges are activist and try to insert their bias into the ruling and divine the spirit of the law that their political leanings corrupt the process. They try to avoid what they see as the unintended consequences of the poorly written law. But this is stepping beyond the role of the judiciary. What they can do is rule, then in their notes send the law for review to the legislature. That is what a nonpartisan judge would do. Then our legislature fights it out the next session. There is always the right to appeal a ruling.

    1. No, Minnesota law prevents those who lose in a primary from re-filing under a different party label and getting on the general election ballot.

      1. I did not know that. Then, if Dan were loyal to a party, I think you would expect him to sit out the election against judges appointed by his party. But he just is not a party person.

  9. Dan, I’m not asking for a pledge or a promise. Saying you’re a “constitutionalist” means nothing to me. As I noted above, every judge likely thinks of themselves as a “constitutionalist”. I need something concrete to hold onto here, not just rhetoric.

    Let’s try this a different way. How would you distinguish your method of interpretation from Justice Gildea’s and why is your method better than hers?

  10. Wade, I’m trying to get information about your candidate. I’ve already told you I’m not a fan of Gildea. I can get into more detail, but that’s besides the point right now. Tell me why I should vote for Griffith — why is he different?

    1. Dan was on the radio last Friday. One of the questions he was asked was if he was confronted with a legal question that clearly went against his personal beliefs how he would decide. Dan said that he would follow the constitution in his position as Justice, not personal or political beliefs. That he would choose the law over personal belief. This is what constitutionalist means.

      This sets him apart also. Dan wants to follow the constitution where it comes to judicial elections in Minnesota. His opponent when sworn in said she wanted to continue the conversation of Al Quie which wants to amend the constitution to take away our right to vote for judges and hand it to politicians.

      Dan has deep respect for the constitution. He is campaigning in part on adherence to the follow the portion that we are to elect judges. The current practice from the bench (all are appointed except one) is to bypass this by resigning so the governor can appoint friends, family and political connections. This shows Dan’s respect for the constitution: he wants to serve the people without politically manipulating the constitution and wants voters to be heard.

      If the law harms people, it is for the legislature to change that law. Politics belongs in the Legislative and Executive branches. This is where the ideological battles belong, not in a politically appointed court.

      1. I guess you’re not understanding my point. Can you point to me a judge who doesn’t think they’re a “constitutionalist”?

        The Constitution doesn’t give us easy answers for every issue. Let me give you a federal example. The Second Amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

        In just this sentence, there’s plenty of points open to interpretation. What does “well-regulated” mean? What is the “Militia”? What are “Arms”? At what point does “well-regulated” cross the line to “infringing”? On and on and on and on — these issue shave been debated for as long as the Constitution has been in place.

        The Constitution doesn’t give you one easy answer to those questions. That’s why I’m looking for a meatier answer on how Griffith would fill in those gaps.

        The inability to provide an answer on this (other than the meaningless “constitutionalist”) means that either it hasn’t been well thought-out or there’s a preference to keep those things in the dark.

        So here’s a final stab at trying to get something here. Which judges (living or dead) does Griffith admire and why?

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