MINNEAPOLIS, April 13 (UPI) -- A three-judge panel ruled Monday that Democrat Al Franken defeated Republican Norm Coleman in Minnesota's 2008 U.S. Senate race.
However, the legal fight may not be over since Coleman has indicated his intent to take the matter to the Minnesota Supreme Court and supporters have urged him go to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
Judges Elizabeth Hayden of Stearns County, Kurt Marben of Pennington County and Denise Reilly of Hennepin County all agreed Coleman lost the seat he had held the previous six years, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Monday.
"Franken received the highest number of legally cast ballots in the Nov. 4, 2008, general election for U.S. senator for the state of Minnesota and is entitled to receive the election certificate," the judges wrote.
The initial vote count showed Coleman leading by 215 votes but an official recount gave Franken a 225-vote edge. That margin grew to 312 after Coleman contested the recount and more absentee ballots were allowed to be counted.
While further appeals are possible, Larry Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political science professor, said going to federal court would be a "scorched-earth" strategy with little chance of success, the Star Tribune reported.
If Coleman goes that route, the U.S. Supreme Court could spend months deliberating whether to accept the case, Richard Hasen, an election law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles told the Minneapolis newspaper.