Court denies Massachusetts GOP effort to halt Paul Kirk's Senate appointment

A Massachusetts court has rejected a request from the state Republican Party to put a temporary hold on Sen.-designate Paul Kirk’s (D-Mass.) swearing-in Friday, clearing the way for Democrats to have a 60th seat in the Senate.

Kirk was appointed to the seat by Gov. Deval Patrick (D) on Thursday, but in order to do so Patrick had to declare an emergency. Republicans said Patrick had no such legal authority and filed for an injunction before the selection was announced.


The court ruled early Friday afternoon that the appointment would proceed.

"The [Republican] Party has not shown that it has a chance to succeed on the merits and, therefore, any risk of harm to the party will not outweigh the risk of harm to the governor and the commonwealth,” Judge Thomas Connolly said, according to WCVB-TV in Boston.

Kirk will become the first new senator from Massachusetts in more than a quarter century, as he temporarily replaces Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Democrats sought to restore appointment powers to the governor at a time when every vote is critical on issues including healthcare reform and labor organizing.

A field of Democrats that won’t include Kirk will battle in a December primary and a January special election for the remainder of Kennedy’s term, which expires in 2012.

State GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Nassour took a few parting shots but accepted the court’s decision.

"From President Obama to Senate Majority Leader [Harry] Reid to Gov. Patrick, Democrats have mounted a campaign to change Massachusetts election law for their own political expediency,” Nassour said. “Today, the Massachusetts Republican Party has exposed them for what they are: purely partisan. While the court saw that our argument warranted a hearing, it ultimately disagreed.”