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.
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 accepted the loss shortly after the decision was announced, saying he had few regrets.
"The Supreme Court has made its decision and I will abide by the results," Coleman told reporters outside his St. Paul home.
"In these tough times we all need to focus on the future, and the future is that we have a new United States senator," Coleman said.
Franken graciously embraced his victory at a press conference with his wife by his side.
President Obama welcomed Franken to office.
"I look forward to working with Senator-Elect Franken to build a new foundation for growth and prosperity by lowering health care costs and investing in the kind of clean energy jobs and industries that will help America lead in the 21st century."
Pawlenty said he would sign the certificate today.
"The Minnesota Supreme Court has today addressed the issues surrounding the accuracy and integrity of our election system during the 2008 U.S. Senate race in Minnesota. In light of that decision and Senator Coleman's announcement that he will not be pursuing an appeal, I will be signing the election certificate today as directed by the court and applicable law.
"I would like to thank Senator Coleman for his service. As state solicitor general, Mayor of Saint Paul and United States Senator, he has been an extraordinary leader and public servant for Minnesota.
"I also want to congratulate Al Franken and wish him well as he serves the people of Minnesota."
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 4th holiday.
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."
They went on to say that "because strict compliance with the statutory requirements for absentee voting is, and always has been required, there is no basis on which voters could have reasonably believed that anything less than strict compliance would suffice."