WASHINGTON – The Republican-led United States Senate voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court late Monday night, giving conservatives a 6-3 majority that could shape future generations to come.
The confirmation of Barrett gives President Donald Trump a political victory with eight days until the election. The 48-year-old judge will fill the seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away from cancer on September 18.
Senate Democrats were unsuccessful despite numerous attempts to slow down the vote but in the end, Barrett was confirmed on a 52-48 vote with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine being the lone conservative to vote against her confirmation.
“You will never, ever, get your credibility back,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said before the vote. “And the next time the American people give Democrats a majority in this chamber, you will have forfeited your right to tell us how to run that majority… You walk a perilous road. I know you think this will eventually blow over. But you’re wrong. The American people will never forget this blatant act of bad faith.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, reversed her decision over the weekend and said she’d vote in favor of confirming Barrett after she originally opposed the process of filling the vacancy in an election year.
“While I oppose the process that has led us to this point,” Murkowski said in a Saturday floor speech. “I do not hold it against her as an individual who has navigated the gauntlet with grace, skill and humility.”
The addition of Barrett to the court could give conservatives the edge in issues such as campaign finance and gun rights while threatening progressive issues like rights to have an abortion, voting rights, and health care.
Barrett becomes the first nominee in the modern era to be sent to the Supreme Court on a partisan vote and did so in a historic pace, just 30 days after she was nominated.
The entire process was not without controversy as Democrats said the seat should not be filled in an election year, instead waiting until after the election on November 3. Meanwhile, there was enthusiasm on the Republican side, despite the criticism from Democrats.
Following her confirmation, the White House held a swearing in ceremony at the Rose Garden late Monday. Justice Clarence Thomas, the most conservative member of the court, administered the official constitutional oath.
Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the judicial oath in a private ceremony on Tuesday.
After taking the oath, Barrett gave remarks and ensured she would not use her position to do favors or side with a ruling based on the political party.
“The oath that I have solemnly taken tonight means at its core that I will do my job without any fear or favor, and that I will do so independently of both the political branches and of my own preferences,” she said.
With Election Day just eight days away, Democrats fear Barrett being added to the court means she’ll intervene in any disputes surrounding the final vote results.
“The confirmation process has made ever clearer to me one of the fundamental differences between the federal judiciary and the United States Senate. And perhaps the most acute is the role of policy preferences,” Barrett said. “It is the job of a senator to pursue her policy preferences.
In fact, it would be a dereliction of duty for her to put policy goals aside. By contrast, it is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences. It would be a dereliction of duty for her to give into them. Federal judges don’t stand for election. Thus, they have no basis for claiming that their preferences reflect those of the people. This separation of duty from political preference is what makes the judiciary distinct among the three branches of government.”
Barrett becomes the youngest member of the court at 48 years old and will likely be there for generations to come. She’s made history as the 115th justice and just the fifth woman to ever serve on the court.
Mr. Trump gave remarks of his own prior to Barrett being sworn in, calling the moment historic.
“It is highly fitting that Justice Barrett fills the seat of a true pioneer for women, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Trump said. “Tonight, Justice Barrett becomes not only the fifth woman to serve on our nation’s highest court but the very first mother of school-aged children to become a Supreme Court justice.”