Because her appointment came after the filing deadline for the May 1994 primary election, the court rejected an argument by the state Republican Party seeking to have the unexpired term on the ballot for the November 1994 general election.
Once the 2012 election is certified, the winner of the special election will serve as U.S. senator for approximately five to six weeks, before the term of the winner of the 2012 general election will begin, she said.
Asked whether the Legislature had actually intended that someone would serve such a short term in the Senate, Tennant said, "I can't speak for what the Legislature did. ... I think this is just a unique situation."
She noted that had Byrd lived one week longer, the issue would be moot, since there would have been less than two years and six months remaining in his term of office.
In that case, Tennant said the law is clear that Gov. Joe Manchin's appointee would serve for the remainder of the unexpired term.
Tennant said nothing would prevent Manchin from calling the Legislature into special session to revise the law, so that a special election could be held this fall.
She also said nothing precludes someone filing a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the state law.
"That's the beauty of our democracy. People have the opportunity to challenge whatever the Legislature has put into place," she said.
State election law does not set any timeline for Manchin to make an appointment to fill the vacancy, Tennant noted.
Manchin said earlier Monday that he would not appoint himself to fill the unexpired term.
Tennant, meanwhile, said it was unfortunate that issues regarding the unexpired term had to be addressed during what should be a time of mourning for Byrd.
"We're still talking about a wonderful person who served West Virginia, whose passing was less than 24 hours ago," she said.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.