SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Supreme Court will live stream oral arguments online beginning Aug. 28, making the proceedings even more accessible to those who can't attend in person.
"We understand it’s not convenient for everybody to drive to Saint Paul, but now they can sit at home or in their offices and watch the argument as it’s happening," Chief Justice Lori S. Gildea told KARE.
"We’re hoping that by providing this greater access to the work of the court that will enhance the public’s understanding of their court system, and increase their trust in it."
Oral arguments are already available after the fact, archived at on the Supreme Court's website, at MNcourts.gov/SupremeCourt. Now you'll be able to tune in live online to see the hearings.
You can also check the High Court's website to view the calendar of upcoming cases and find documents that have been filed in those cases prior to oral arguments.
"The oral argument is one of our favorite parts of the decision-making process, the chance to get in the courtroom and mix it up, and test some principles," Justice Gildea explained.
"We’re asking the lawyers questions to make sure we understand the full ramifications of the arguments they’re making and the rule of law they’re asking us to adopt."
The first test of the court's new live streaming function will come Monday, Aug. 28 at 9 a.m., with a case of particular interest to political junkies and taxpayers alike. It's the case of the Legislature versus Gov. Mark Dayton, sparked by his controversial line-item veto of the House and Senate operating budgets.
Gov. Dayton lost at the district court level, when Ramsey County District Judge John Guthmann ruled that Dayton misused the line-item veto because he didn't object to the use of those funds. The governor was trying to cut off the legislature's budget in order to force Republican leaders back to the bargaining table to undo elements of bills he already signed.
Dayton signed the bills despite his objections in order to avoid a state government shutdown, but hoped to convince legislative leaders to repeal a commercial property tax freeze and other items he worries will in coming years put the state on shaky fiscal ground.
His attorney argues that the governor's line-item veto power can be used for any purpose, but lawyers for the House and Senate have asserted Dayton's action amounted to a violation of the separation of powers clause in the federal and state constitutions.
Monday's hearing will be held in the newly restored historic Supreme Court chambers in the State Capitol, rather than the Minnesota Judicial Center across the street from the Capitol. The live streaming function will be especially helpful, considering the ornate chamber doesn't have much spectator seating capacity.
"Once the arguments are over the seven of us go back to the conference room that's behind the chambers and we decide the case that same day. It's a very thoughtful, deliberate process in which we listen to one another and learn from one another."
Decisions are written up and then posted on Wednesday mornings.
Justice Gildea pressed lawmakers herself during the 2017 session, and appearing at committee hearings to press legislators to fully fund the judicial branch. She reminded them that the Judiciary is a separate, co-equal branch of state government.
One of the roles of the chief justice is to administer the budget for the entire state court system, which includes local judges, prosecutors, public defenders and support staff.
During negotiations with legislative leaders, Dayton fought hard for Gildea's requests. The appropriations in that public safety bill aren't at issue in the case the Supreme Court will hear Monday.
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