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Justices hear lawyers for administration, Legislature spar over amendment titles

The Dayton administration argues a 1919 law gives the Secretary of State the power to write the titles of Constitutional amendments that appear on the ballot. Lawyers for the Legislature say the Constitution gives lawmakers that authority. Supreme Court justices will need to decide who's right before the end of August, so this fall's ballots can be prepared.
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The Dayton administration argues a 1919 law gives the Secretary of State the power to write the titles of Constitutional amendments that appear on the ballot. Lawyers for the Legislature say the Constitution gives lawmakers that authority. Supreme Court justices will need to decide who's right before the end of August, so this fall's ballots can be prepared.

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Minnesota Supreme Court justices will hear arguments Tuesday about the titles of the Constitutional amendments that will appear on the fall ballot. Backers of the marriage and voter ID amendments want the court to get rid of the titles supplied by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and restore the original titles the Legislature wrote. The court refused to extend the time limits for attorneys to make their arguments.

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Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's changes to the title that will appear over the marriage amendment on the fall ballot came under attack in papers filed with the state Supreme Court. Lawyers for Republican lawmakers and other backers of the amendment say Ritchie's changes will make voters less likely to approve the Constitutional amendment. They also argue that it's up to the Legislature - not the Secretary of State - to write the title. A hearing before the court is coming up later this month.

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Groups that are challenging the proposed Constitutional amendment that would require an ID to vote filed paperwork with the Minnesota Supreme Court in advance of the hearing later this month. They say if the court approves the ballot question as is, it will send the message that the Legislature is free to mislead or deceive voters.

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