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Judge Rejects Request to Delay Swearing In of Kennedy Successor

BOSTON -- A Massachusetts judge on Friday rejected a Republican request to delay the swearing in of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's temporary replacement.

The state Republican Party argued that Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick exceeded his constitutional authority by appointing Paul G. Kirk Jr. on Thursday. 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.
Republicans said law permitting such a declaration does not apply in this case. The state attorney general's office disagreed.

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

"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.

Kirk is to be sworn in Friday afternoon in Washington.

Democrats are eager to have Kirk take Kennedy's seat to regain a critical 60th Senate vote that President Barack Obama may need to pass a health care overhaul -- his top domestic priority. That would give the Democrats enough votes to overcome Republican efforts to use legislative tactics to block a final vote on the bill.