Loading...

Minnesota High Court OKs Ballot Question on Minneapolis PD

September 17, 2021by Steve Karnowski, Associated Press
Minnesota High Court OKs Ballot Question on Minneapolis PD
Minneapolis residents Don and Sondra Samuels listen as their attorney Joe Anthony speaks at a press conference to discuss where the situation stands regarding language on the future of the Minneapolis policing ballot Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Minneapolis. (David Joles/Star Tribune via AP)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday evening for voters in Minneapolis to decide on the future of policing in the city where George Floyd was killed, just ahead of the start of early and absentee voting.

The state’s highest court overturned a lower court ruling that rejected ballot language approved by the City Council. A district judge said the wording failed to adequately describe the effects of a proposed charter amendment that would replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety that “could include” police officers “if necessary.”

But Chief Justice Lorie Gildea said in a three-page order that the justices concluded that the challenge to the ballot language did not meet the “high standard” that the court set in earlier cases. She said the court will issue a full opinion laying out its legal reasoning sometime later to avoid impeding the start of voting.

“Now voters have the opportunity to make their voices heard on this ballot question,” City Attorney Jim Rowader said.

The Supreme Court was under pressure to rule quickly because early and absentee voting opens at 8 a.m. Friday in the Minneapolis municipal elections. The ballots were already being printed when Hennepin County District Judge Jamie Anderson ruled against the language Tuesday. It was the second time she had struck down the council’s wording. Gildea put the case on the fast track Wednesday.

Lawyers on both sides said beforehand that they expected the high court ruling allowing the ballot language to be the final word, given the late hour. Leaders of the pro-amendment Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign have a rally set for Friday afternoon.

“We’re all very pleased that the system worked,” said Terrance Moore, an attorney for Yes 4 Minneapolis. “As ugly as it sometimes looks, the process went through from beginning to end and in the end the Supreme Court followed the law and its precedent. And the voters get to vote on the ballot question.”

The proposal has its roots in the “defund the police” movement, which gained steam after Floyd’s death last summer sparked protests, civil unrest and a national reckoning on racial justice. The amendment does not use the term “defund.” But it would remove the city charter’s requirement that Minneapolis have a police department with a minimum staffing level. Many details of how the new agency would work would be left up to the the City Council and mayor to decide later.

Yes 4 Minneapolis, which spearheaded the initiative, insists that the city would continue to have police if voters approve the amendment, but that the new department would be free to take a fresh approach to public safety that could reduce excessive policing against communities of color.

Opponents of the amendment, including former council member Don Samuels and his wife, Sondra, who were behind the court challenge, said the ballot language leaves too many important questions unexplained for voters about how the new department would be implemented, led, staffed and funded.

The All of Minneapolis anti-amendment campaign said it will start running its first ad on Friday. Its message is that the lack of a plan for what comes next if the proposal passes is alarming to many residents, especially given the track record of City Council members who have expressed varying degrees of support over time for defunding or abolishing the police. 

Yes 4 Minneapolis argued in its filing with the Supreme Court that the Minneapolis Police Department would not automatically disappear if the amendment passed. The group said the department would continue to exist under current city ordinances until the City Council passed new laws to establish the new agency, and that the council could keep the force in place as long as necessary for an orderly transition.

In The News

Health

Voting

In The States

Shying From Trump, Ex-Maine Gov. Paul LePage Seeks Job Back

YARMOUTH, Maine (AP) — When then-Maine Gov. Paul LePage endorsed Donald Trump in 2016, he credited himself as a prototype... Read More

YARMOUTH, Maine (AP) — When then-Maine Gov. Paul LePage endorsed Donald Trump in 2016, he credited himself as a prototype for the insurgent presidential candidate. "I was Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular, so I think I should support him since we are one of... Read More

GOP Attacks Georgia's Abrams on Voting as Judge Rejects Suit

ATLANTA (AP) — When Democrat Stacey Abrams narrowly lost the Georgia governor's race to Republican Brian Kemp four years ago,... Read More

ATLANTA (AP) — When Democrat Stacey Abrams narrowly lost the Georgia governor's race to Republican Brian Kemp four years ago, she didn't go quietly. She ended her campaign with a nonconcession that acknowledged she wouldn't be governor, while spotlighting her claims that Kemp had used his... Read More

October 1, 2022
by Dan McCue
Election Uncertainty Abounds as Florida Cleans Up From Hurricane Ian’s Fury

TALLAHASSEE — Hurricane Ian’s march through Florida and the Carribean left at least 35 people dead in the Sunshine State,... Read More

TALLAHASSEE — Hurricane Ian’s march through Florida and the Carribean left at least 35 people dead in the Sunshine State, along with another three in Cuba, and caused anywhere from $66 billion to $75 billion in damage, depending on the estimate. But as the cleanup and... Read More

September 30, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
Broadband Grant Leaves Alaskan Village ‘Giddy’

PORT LIONS, Alaska — The residents of the native village of Port Lions and surrounding Alaskan villages are “giddy” at... Read More

PORT LIONS, Alaska — The residents of the native village of Port Lions and surrounding Alaskan villages are “giddy” at the thought of getting internet through the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, said Denise May, the tribal administer for... Read More

In Minnesota, Abortion Key to Keith Ellison's 2nd Term Hopes

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Keith Ellison gave up a safe seat in Congress to run for Minnesota attorney general, saying it was his... Read More

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Keith Ellison gave up a safe seat in Congress to run for Minnesota attorney general, saying it was his best chance to push back against the policies of Donald Trump. Now locked in a tough reelection fight, he's arguing that he's been far less of... Read More

People Trapped, 2.5M Without Power as Ian Drenches Florida

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction in southwest Florida, trapping people in flooded homes, cutting off... Read More

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction in southwest Florida, trapping people in flooded homes, cutting off the only bridge to a barrier island, damaging the roof of a hospital intensive care unit and knocking out power to 2.5 million people as it dumped rain... Read More

News From The Well