In preparation for what they expect to be Republican Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts Senate special election tonight, conservatives and Republicans have unearthed a novel and ironic precedent, which they're using to argue that, if he wins, Brown should be seated right away as the 41st vote against health care reform.
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Senate rules require that all newly-elected Senators be certified as winners by their home states before they can be sworn in. But on November 6, 1962, none other than Ted Kennedy himself won a special election to fill his own brother's Senate seat in Massachusetts, and was sworn in the very next day--two full weeks before his victory was certified, and three weeks before that certification arrived in Washington.
1962 is a long way back, and according to Senate historian Don Ritchie, the relevant rule has been in place since well before then.