The Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in separate lawsuits over the rewriting of ballot question titles for the state's two much-debated proposed constitutional amendments: voter ID and gay marriage.
The court is expected to rule on both cases within a month.
In a brief filed two weeks ago, lawyers representing state lawmakers defended the measure by arguing that it had been put on the ballot properly. During the hearing, Thomas Boyd, who has been hired to represent the Minnesota Legislature's interests, argued lawmakers should be granted a wide breadth when designing ballot questions as long as they are not intentionally deceptive or evasive.
On the other hand, the lawyers for the opponents of the voter ID requirement say the question is misleading because it doesn't inform voters of the full system they will be asked to decide on, citing the provisional ballot system for those without proper identification at the polls as an example.
Minnesota for Marriage, a pro-constitutional marriage amendment group, is suing Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and Attorney General Lori Swanson for "unlawfully changing the title of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment" that will appear on the ballot this year.
Republican sponsors wanted the amendment to be titled, "Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman." They were upset when Ritchie changed the ballot question title to "Limiting the Status of Marriage to Opposite Sex Couples."
Minnesota for Marriage says Ritchie overstepped his authority in changing the title, but Ritchie's office has already pointed to a law that allows the Secretary of State to create ballot wording.
AT THE HEARING
Supreme Court justices are often vocal, critical and direct -- and Tuesday was no different as they heard arguments opposing Ritchie's wording of the two upcoming constitutional amendment questions.
At one point, Justice Paul Anderson said both amendments are emotional and politically-charged, but he said both versions of the questions have problems -- even saying with a laugh, "a pox on both your houses."