- 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 will be President Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court justice.
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The Senate on Monday confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the nation’s highest court in a 52-48 vote along party lines.
Barrett, 48, was confirmed with just eight days to go until the election. No justice was ever previously confirmed while voting was already underway. Her confirmation will give the Supreme Court a ninth justice, and conservatives a 6-3 majority.
No Democrat voted in favor of confirming Barrett, President Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court justice.
Only one Republican, US Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, voted against Barrett’s nomination.
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 virtually from the moment she was nominated in late September following the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court confirmations in 2017, meaning Republicans only needed a simple majority to confirm Barrett.
Senate Democrats have accused their Republican colleagues of hypocrisy for blocking a Democratic president’s nominee to the high court amid the previous presidential election cycle but rushing to confirm a GOP president’s Supreme Court nominee with the 2020 election already underway and Americans voting early at a record pace.
In 2016, Senate refused to hold confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, 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.
McConnell was at the center of the successful effort to block Garland from consideration in 2016, but flip-flopped 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. They won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come,” McConnell added.
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 health care.
Congressional Democrats have expressed concern that Barrett’s confirmation could be fatal to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. The Supreme Court is poised to hear a challenge to the landmark health care 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 is not “hostile” to the ACA, but Democrats were seemingly 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 potentially 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 come before the court.