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Kirk Sworn In As U.S. Senator For Massachusetts

This article is more than 10 years old.
Vice President Joe Biden, right, administers the Senate oath to Paul Kirk Jr. as Kirk's wife, Gail, looks on. (AP)
Vice President Joe Biden, right, administers the Senate oath to Paul Kirk Jr. as Kirk's wife, Gail, looks on. (AP)

Paul Kirk Jr. has been sworn in as Edward M. Kennedy's temporary replacement in the Senate, just hours after a judge rejected the Massachusetts Republican Party's challenge to the appointment.

Vice President Joseph Biden swore in Kirk on Friday in Washington.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly refused to stop the swearing-in of the longtime Kennedy aide as the new U.S. senator from Massachusetts, saying Republicans failed to make enough of a case.

Connolly also granted the state's request to dismiss the case.

"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," Connolly wrote in his decision.

Biden talks with the newly sworn-in Kirk as the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, and Sen. John Kerry look on. (AP)
Biden talks with the newly sworn-in Kirk as the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, and Sen. John Kerry look on. (AP)

Republicans had argued that Gov. Deval Patrick exceeded his constitutional authority by appointing Kirk on Thursday. They said the governor does not have the authority to make an emergency appointment of a new senator, and must instead wait until December.

"The governor's power to declare an emergency is not absolute," attorney James O'Brien argued on behalf of the Republicans. "By granting the governor the power to appoint by way of an unconstitutional maneuver, this establishes a dangerous precedent."

Patrick appointed Kirk to fill the seat left vacant when Kennedy died of brain cancer in August. Kirk, who is also the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, would hold the seat until a January special election.

Lawmakers passed a bill this week giving Patrick the power to choose an interim senator. Laws usually take effect in 90 days, but Patrick signed a letter declaring the bill an emergency.

State Republicans would not say whether the party plans to appeal the ruling. However, Jennifer Nassour, the party's chairwoman, is calling on voters to look ahead.

"I urge the voters of Massachusetts to not allow the courts the final say in this matter," she said in a statement. "I believe the ultimate remedy to the untenable situation on Beacon Hill can be found in the voting booths."

Kirk gives Senate Democrats a filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority with the health care fight at a critical point.


This program aired on September 25, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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