- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009

A Massachusetts judge rejected a request Friday to delay the swearing in today of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s temporary replacement in the Senate.

The request was made by the Massachusetts Republican Party, which argued Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, exceeded his powers Thursday by appointing Paul G. Kirk Jr. to serve in the Senate until residents pick a candidate in an election scheduled for Jan. 19.

The state legislature passed a bill Wednesday giving Mr. Patrick the power to choose an interim senator.

However, the bill passed without a two-thirds majority, so the governor had to ask Secretary of State William F. Galvin to make the legislation an emergency bill so it could take effect immediately. Under the state constitution, most new bills go into effect after 90 days.

Republicans said law permitting such a declaration does not apply in this case. The state attorney general’s office disagreed.

Mr. Kennedy, a Democrat, died Aug. 25 of brain cancer.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly denied the request and dismissed the case after hearing arguments Friday morning.

Mr. Kirk, 71, is scheduled to be sworn in at 3 p.m. Friday on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Kirk, a Democrat, served on Mr. Kennedy’s staff from 1969 and 1977 and is a former Democratic National Committee chairman. He graduated from Harvard Law School and is now chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in Boston.

“I accept this with humility,” Mr. Kirk said Thursday at news conference in Boston naming his as the temporary replacement. “Mr. Kennedy often said representing the commonwealth of Massachusetts is the highest honor. It is my highest honor as well. I will give a voice and a vote to his causes.”

The appointment will give Democrats the key, filibuster-proof 60th vote in the Senate as President Obama tries to pass legislation on reforming health-care insurance.

Reforming health care was Mr. Kennedy’s signature political issue. Before his death, Mr. Kennedy asked Mr. Patrick to appoint a temporary replacement.

Mr. Patrick said the appointment was important because the state needs full representation in Congress on such issues as unemployment and climate change, not just health care reform.

Mr. Kirk said he will not run in the January election. The Democratic primary field includes state Attorney General Martha Coakley and U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano.

Mr. Kirk is a registered lobbyist, so he would be banned from lobbying for two years after his appointment ends.

The state Legislature’s vote concluded weeks of debate and political maneuvering, including state Republicans trying unsuccessfully to get Mr. Galvin to reject Mr. Patrick’s letter.

In 2004, Democrats revoked the gubernatorial power to fill Senate vacancies out of concern that then-Gov. Mitt Romney would appoint a fellow Republican had Mr. Kerry won the presidential election.

Statement from the Massachusetts Republican Party

BOSTON - Following a decision issued today by Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly to consider a request for injunctive relief filed by the Massachusetts Republican Party, Jennifer Nassour, Chairman of the MassGOP, issued the following statement: “From President Obama to Senate Majority Leader Reid to Governor Patrick, Democrats have mounted a campaign to change Massachusetts election law for their own political expediency. 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. I urge the voters of Massachusetts to not allow the courts the final say in this matter. I believe the ultimate remedy to the untenable situation on Beacon Hill can be found in the voting booths. It is up to the voters of Massachusetts to finally decide enough is enough and to refuse to re-elect the entrenched incumbents responsible for raising our taxes in the middle of a recession, turning a blind eye to public corruption, and manipulating the law to keep their grip on power. The preliminary elections for mayor in cities across the Commonwealth show an anti-incumbent sentiment, indicating that voters are fed up with the status quo. It is my sincere hope that this frustration turns into action in the January U.S. Senate special election and into November 2010, and that voters reject the pawns of the special interests and the Democrat Party and elect candidates who believe this is a government for the people.”

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