PHOTO CREDITS: GREG NASH/POOL/AP
Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate on Monday with a final tally of 52 to 48, solidifying a significant conservative majority in the country’s highest court.
Monday’s 52-48 vote was the closest high court confirmation ever to a presidential election. Barrett’s confirmation gives conservatives a 6-3 majority on the High Court, where she’s likely to serve for decades as she’s only 48 years old. Senator Susan Collins was the only Republican to join every Senate Democrat in voting no.
The confirmation comes just 8 days before Election Day and after Barrett’s nomination was fast-tracked despite an outcry from Democrats, who think the American people should have a say in the makeup of the highest court in the land. This claim by Democrats has been countered by Republicans, who claim that the peoples’ voice was heard in 2016 when they voted in President Donald Trump for a four year term.
Speaking near midnight Sunday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called the vote “illegitimate” and “the last gasp of a desperate party.” Justice Clarence Thomas is expected to swear-in Barrett at the White House during Tuesday evening’s outdoor ceremony.
Democrats argued for weeks that the vote was being improperly rushed and insisted during an all-night Sunday session it should be up to the winner of the Nov. 3 election to name the nominee. However, Barrett, a federal appeals court judge from Indiana, is expected to be seated swiftly, and begin hearing cases. Several matters are awaiting decision just a week before Election Day, and Barrett could be a decisive vote in Republican appeals of orders extending the deadlines for absentee ballots in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
During several days of public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barrett was careful not to disclose how she would rule on any such cases. She presented herself as a neutral arbiter, suggesting “It’s not the law of Amy.”
Vice President Mike Pence’s office said Monday he would not preside at the Senate session unless his tie-breaking vote was needed, after Democrats asked him to stay away when his aides tested positive for COVID-19. Pence was not infected and his office said the vice president tested negative for the virus Monday. Pence’s presence presiding for the vote would have been expected, showcasing the Republican priority. But Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and his leadership team said it would not only violate virus guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “it would also be a violation of common decency and courtesy.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, praised the mother of seven as a role model — “a conservative woman who embraces her faith.” Republicans focused on her Catholic religion, dismissing earlier Democratic questions about her beliefs. Graham said Barrett is “unabashedly pro-life, but she’s not going to apply ‘the law of Amy’ to all of us.” Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said in a speech Monday that Barrett will “go down in history as one of the great justices.”
“This is something to be really proud of and feel good about,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said during a rare weekend session Sunday ahead of voting. He scoffed at the “apocalyptic” warnings from critics that the judicial branch was becoming mired in partisan politics and declared that “they won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come” (AP).
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE