- The Senate on Monday voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
- Barrett was confirmed just eight days before Election Day amid fervent opposition from Senate Democrats.
- She is President Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court justice.
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The Senate on Monday confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the nation’s highest court in a 52-48 vote mostly along party lines.
Barrett, 48, was confirmed just eight days before Election Day. She became the first US justice to be confirmed with voting underway. Her confirmation gives the Supreme Court a ninth justice, with her replacement of the liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg giving conservatives a 6-3 majority.
No Democrat voted in favour of confirming Barrett, who’s President Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court appointment.
Only one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, voted against Barrett’s confirmation.
Barrett was quickly sworn in at a White House ceremony led by Justice Clarence Thomas.
Previously serving as a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Barrett was expected to be confirmed essentially from the moment Trump nominated her in late September after Ginsburg’s death.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court confirmations in 2017, meaning Republicans needed only a simple majority to confirm Barrett.
Senate Democrats have accused their Republican colleagues of hypocrisy over Barrett’s swift confirmation. In 2016, Senate Republicans refused to hold confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland on the basis that it was an election year and voters should have a say. Garland was nominated 237 days before Election Day in 2016. By comparison, Barrett was nominated just 38 days before Election Day, with the 2020 election already underway and Americans voting early at a record pace.
McConnell was at the centre of the successful effort to block Garland from consideration in 2016, but he reversed course in 2020 when he had the opportunity to install yet another conservative justice to the Supreme Court.
The GOP leader on Sunday celebrated Barrett’s impending confirmation. “This is something to really be proud of and feel good about,” McConnell said. “We made an important contribution to the future of this country.”
“A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the next election,” McConnell added. “They won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”
Barrett, a conservative Catholic, was evasive when questioned by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about key issues during her confirmation hearings.
Citing the so-called Ginsburg rule, which Ginsburg never actually followed, Barrett refused to answer questions on topics ranging from Roe v. Wade and climate change to same-sex marriage and healthcare.
Congressional Democrats have expressed concern that Barrett’s confirmation could be fatal to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The Supreme Court is poised to hear a challenge to the landmark healthcare law a week after the general election, and Barrett has been critical of aspects of the ACA in previous writings. Barrett during her confirmation hearings maintained that she was not “hostile” to the ACA, but Democrats seemed unconvinced.
Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii on Sunday told MSNBC: “The president promised that he would appoint a justice who will strike down the ACA. In Amy Barrett, he thinks he has that justice.”
The new Supreme Court justice could also play a role in the election if a close result prompts legal challenges. During her confirmation hearings, Barrett would not commit to recusing herself if any Trump-related election cases came before the court.