Former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman appealed today to the Minnesota Supreme Court, asking it to throw out a unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel that his rival, Democrat Al Franken, defeated him by 312 votes last Nov. 4.

For his part, Franken asked the state’s highest court to reject Coleman’s appeal and hand down an order that he deserves to be certified immediately and sworn into office as Minnesota’s second duly elected senator. When Franken is seated, the Democrats will have a 60-seat supermajority, enough to break Republican filibusters, their main strategy for blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees, health care with a “public option” and the Employee Free Choice Act.

Coleman asked the court to send the case back to the three-judge panel with an order that they review 4,400 absentee ballots already thrown out as invalid by the lower court. The Republicans know the appeal is a long shot. It is not known how long it will take the state Supreme Court to rule on Coleman’s appeal. But Republican strategists threaten to carry the fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a stalling tactic that could take months or even years.

Franken’s attorney said Coleman has not proven that any irregularities actually affected the outcome of the election. “In total, the [trial] court received evidence of valid voter registration for fewer than 700 absentee voters,” Franken’s lawyer said.

The Minnesota Star-Tribune carried a news article on the hearing in the Monday edition with an invitation for comments on their blog. Their featured blog post of the day asks,

“Can Coleman ever be more dishonest than this? Coleman is doing the dirty work for the GOP and that is all he is doing. He has no chance of an election win and he knows it. He has no regard at all for the people of Minnesota. This is a GOP travesty and should be remembered in all elections to come.”