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After an unprecedented eight months of legal wrangling and poring over hundreds upon hundreds of contested ballots, the Minnesota Supreme Court has paved the way for Democrat Al Franken to fill long-vacant Senate seat.
And it appears Pawlenty will sign Franken's election certificate, according to comments he made on CNN earlier this week.
Taking into account Sen. Arlen Specter's switch from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party earlier this year, Franken's addition to the U.S. Senate pushes the Democratic Caucus to a 60-seat majority. This would give Democrats a filibuster-proof edge in the Senate, provided everyone votes according to party lines.
The decision comes after eight months during which Minnesotans kept a close eye on absentee ballots, challenged ballots, the state Canvassing Board and a three-judge panel. For six months, Sen. Amy Klobuchar's office handled the workload of two senators.
The Supreme Court first heard oral arguments in Norm Coleman's case against Franken on June 1. He filed a notice of appeal in April.
The latest election numbers show Franken leading Coleman by 312 votes out of more than 2.8 million ballots cast.
Coleman's lawyers argued to the Minnesota Supreme Court that vote-counting irregularities were severe enough to deny Franken a Senate seat.
Coleman's key argument for months has been that different counties applied different standards to decide whether absentee ballots were legally cast.
So the question is: what's next?
According to Thomas Mann, a political expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Franken can be sworn in with no vote required by the Senate. He said Republicans could attempt to block, but would likely be defeated by a simple majority vote.
There still exists the possibility that Coleman could take an appeal to the federal courts, but constitutional experts WCCO contacted said Coleman's changes in a federal appeal would be slim because, unlike the Bush vs. Gore decision, legal precedent puts senate elections in the hands of states, not the federal government.
Still, on Sunday, June 28, Gov. Tim Pawlenty appeared on CNN and said he would sign Franken's election certificate if the Minnesota Supreme Court gave him the green light to do so.
"I'm not going to defy an order of the Minnesota Supreme Court. That would be a dereliction of my duty," he said.