Friday, March 24, 2006

Johnson dodges censure

The state Senate ethics subcommittee dropped a complaint against Majority Leader Dean Johnson on the condition he apologize.

Members of the Senate special subcommittee on ethics said they agreed to the deal in part because they feared they would never be able to determine whether Johnson or Supreme Court justices were telling the truth without being able to question the justices. They said they considered the possibility that justices could successfully claim they were immune from testifying before the legislature.

"We wanted to avoid a potential separations of power conflict," said Sen. Thomas Neuville, R-Northfield.

The panel, which has two DFLers and two Republican members, voted unanimously in favor of the deal after a two-hour closed session attended by Johnson, his attorney and two Republican critics.

Neuville's quote echoes the argument I made earlier about both parties having an interest in not going after the judiciary. The Republicans are now free to make hay with this in the upcoming elections, and they should. Johnson and the DFL can plausibly try to put this behind them. In any case it appears sanity has prevailed, with the DFL showing humility and the GOP showing restraint.

It'll be interesting to see if this is brought up during the debate/argument over the gay marriage amendment. If it does, it will be a mistake. That battle should be fought on the merits, not personal attacks on opponents.

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