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Sometimes, oh Lord, there is Justice in judges.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial on the Minnesota Senate recount -- an editorial so ill-informed, so riddled with stupid errors, that one can only assume that it was written by the Norm Coleman campaign and copied verbatim by a naive WSJ editorial board without the messy red tape of actual, you know, fact-checking. Flinging around words like "strange," "dubious" and even "illegitimate," the WSJ described an entirely fictional spineless Canvassing Board ginned up into a partisan machine by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. They finished with this hyperbole spin lie:

If the Canvassing Board certifies Mr. Franken as the winner based on the current count, it will be anointing a tainted and undeserving Senator.

Today, the Hon. Edward J. Cleary, Assistant Chief Judge of Minnesota's 6th Judicial District and member of the Minnesota State Canvassing Board, wrote a body-slamming hammerlock of a reply that reads like it came from someone with a more than passing acquaintance to a professional wrestler.

As a subscriber of your newspaper for almost three decades, I don't expect to always agree with your editorial viewpoint. Yet I am nevertheless very disappointed when I read an editorial long on partisan tone and short on accurate reporting.
As a member of the Minnesota State Canvassing Board, appointed pursuant to statute, I have attended all nine Board open meetings held the past seven weeks. I am knowledgeable about the proceedings as well as Minnesota's election laws. Our members (two Supreme Court Justices, two District Court Judges, and Secretary of State Ritchie) came from all political backgrounds, openly expressed our opinions at the meetings, and can hardly be accurately described as "meek", unless you mean "meek" by New York in-your-face standards. Your groundless attack on Secretary Ritchie reflects poorly on the author; Ritchie worked assiduously at avoiding partisanship in these proceedings.
As to the Board as a whole, all of our major votes were unanimous. We consistently followed the law in limiting our involvement to a non-adjudicative role, declining both candidates' attempts to expand our mandate. Further, we painstakingly reviewed each challenged ballot, some more than once, to confirm that we were ruling in a consistent manner.
One can only assume, based on the tone of the editorial, the numerous inaccuracies, and the over-the-top slam at Al Franken ("tainted and undeserving?") that had Norm Coleman come out on top in this recount, the members of the Board would have been praised as "strong-willed, intelligent, and perceptive."
We won't hold our breath waiting for that editorial to appear.

[UPDATE: More explicit kudos to Dave Brauer at the irreplaceable MinnPost for scooping this nugget. Link is above. And, yes, thanks Kossacks for the reclist!]

Over at fivethirtyeight, Nate Silver has already eviscerated factual "basis" of the WSJ editorial like a pathologist in the autopsy room.

And finally, even Minnesota's solidly GOP Powerline took the WSJ to the woodshed:

The Board of Canvassers that was convened to preside over the recount and rule on challenged ballots conducted itself honorably under difficult circumstances. ... I have known Chief Justice Magnuson professionally more than 25 years. Justice Anderson was my law school classmate and is a friend. In my view, they are two of the best judges serving in the Minnesota courts. Period.

There was no noticeable partisan division among the board. Minnesotans are justifiably proud of the transparency and fairness of their work. I reject any imputation of misconduct to the board such as is implicit in the Journal editorial.

Originally posted to The Numerate Historian on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 01:56 PM PST.

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