ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered that Democrat Al Franken be certified as the winner of the state's long-running Senate race, paving the way for a resolution in the seven-month fight over the seat.
The high court rejected a legal challenge from Republican Norm Coleman, whose options for regaining the Senate seat are dwindling.
Justices said Franken is entitled to the election certificate he needs to assume office. With Franken and the usual backing of two independents, Democrats will have a big enough majority to overcome Republican filibusters.
Coleman hasn't ruled out seeking federal court intervention.
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said the earliest Franken would be seated is next week because the Senate is out of session for the July 4 holiday.
Franken, a former Saturday Night Live star making the leap from life as a left-wing author and radio talker to the Senate, planned a news conference later Tuesday and didn't immediately comment.
Coleman's campaign didn't immediately return a call for comment. Nor did Gov. Tim Pawlenty, whose signature is required on the election certificate Franken needs to be seated.
Pawlenty, a Republican, has said he would sign the certificate if ordered to do so by the court. The court's ruling stopped short of explicitly ordering the governor to sign the document, saying only that Franken was "entitled" to it.
Coleman's appeal hinged largely on whether thousands of absentee votes had been unfairly rejected by local election officials around the state.
The unanimous court wrote that "because the legislature established absentee voting as an optional method of voting, voters choosing to use that method are required to comply with the statutory provisions."