Amy Coney Barrett confirmed by Senate for Supreme Court, takes oath

President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and Amy Coney Barrett and her husband Jesse stand on the Blue Room Balcony after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered the Constitutional Oath to her on the South Lawn of the White House White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. Barrett was confirmed to be a Supreme Court justice by the Senate earlier in the evening. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and Amy Coney Barrett and her husband Jesse stand on the Blue Room Balcony after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered the Constitutional Oath to her on the South Lawn of the White House White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. Barrett was confirmed to be a Supreme Court justice by the Senate earlier in the evening. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump watches as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administers the Constitutional Oath to Amy Coney Barrett on the South Lawn of the White House White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, after Barrett was confirmed to be a Supreme Court justice by the Senate earlier in the evening. Holding the Bible is Barrett’s husband, Jesse Barrett. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)President Donald Trump watches as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administers the Constitutional Oath to Amy Coney Barrett on the South Lawn of the White House White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, after Barrett was confirmed to be a Supreme Court justice by the Senate earlier in the evening. Holding the Bible is Barrett’s husband, Jesse Barrett. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Amy Coney Barrett speaks after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered the Constitutional Oath to her on the South Lawn of the White House White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, after Barrett was confirmed to be a Supreme Court justice by the Senate earlier in the evening. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Amy Coney Barrett speaks after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered the Constitutional Oath to her on the South Lawn of the White House White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, after Barrett was confirmed to be a Supreme Court justice by the Senate earlier in the evening. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
People pray to Jesus at the door of the Supreme Court in support of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, outside the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)People pray to Jesus at the door of the Supreme Court in support of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, outside the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Jennifer Friend of Gainesville, Fla., left, rallies in favor of the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, next to Sydney Hopfer, and Deidra Hubay, right, both of Pittsburgh, who oppose it, outside the Supreme Court, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)Jennifer Friend of Gainesville, Fla., left, rallies in favor of the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, next to Sydney Hopfer, and Deidra Hubay, right, both of Pittsburgh, who oppose it, outside the Supreme Court, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court late Monday by a deeply divided Senate, with Republicans overpowering Democrats to install President Donald Trump’s nominee days before the election and secure a likely conservative court majority for years to come.

Trump’s choice to fill the vacancy of the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg potentially opens a new era of rulings on abortion, the Affordable Care Act and even his own election. Democrats were unable to stop the outcome, Trump’s third justice on the court, as Republicans race to reshape the judiciary.

Barrett, 48, will be able to start work Tuesday, her lifetime appointment as the 115th justice solidifying the court’s rightward tilt.

“This is a momentous day for America,” Trump said at a primetime swearing-in event on the South Lawn at the White House. Justice Clarence Thomas administered the constitutional Oath to Barrett before a crowd of about 200.

Barrett told those gathered that she believes “it is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences.” She vowed, “I will do my job without any fear or favour.”

Monday’s vote was the closest high court confirmation ever to a presidential election, and the first in modern times with no support from the minority party. The spiking COVID-19 crisis has hung over the proceedings. Vice-President Mike Pence declined to preside at the Senate unless his tie-breaking vote was needed after Democrats asked him to stay away when his aides tested positive for COVID-19. The vote was 52-48, and Pence’s vote was not necessary.

“Voting to confirm this nominee should make every single senator proud,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, fending off “outlandish” criticism in a lengthy speech. During a rare weekend session he declared that Barrett’s opponents “won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”

Barrett, a federal appeals court judge from Indiana, is expected to take the judicial oath administered by Chief Justice John Roberts in a private ceremony Tuesday at the court to begin participating in proceedings.

Underscoring the political divide during the pandemic, the Republican senators, most wearing masks, sat in their seats as is tradition for landmark votes, and applauded the outcome, with fist-bumps. Democratic senators emptied their side, heeding party leadership’s advice to not linger in the chamber. A Rose Garden event with Trump to announce Barrett’s nomination last month ended up spreading the virus, including to some GOP senators who have since returned from quarantine.

Pence’s presence would have been expected for a high-profile moment. 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.”

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.

Speaking near midnight Sunday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called the vote “illegitimate” and “the last gasp of a desperate party.”

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.

The justices also are weighing Trump’s emergency plea for the court to prevent the Manhattan District Attorney from acquiring his tax returns. And on Nov. 10, the court is expected to hear the Trump-backed challenge to the Obama-era Affordable Care Act. Just before the Senate voted, the court sided with Republicans in refusing to extend the deadline for absentee ballots in Wisconsin.

Trump has said he wanted to swiftly install a ninth justice to resolve election disputes and is hopeful the justices will end the health law known as “Obamacare.”

In a statement, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tied Barrett’s nomination to the court to the Republican effort to pull down the Affordable Care Act. He called her confirmation “rushed and unprecedented” and a stark reminder to Americans that “your vote matters.”

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 and suggested, “It’s not the law of Amy.” But her writings against abortion and a ruling on “Obamacare” show a deeply conservative thinker.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, praised the mother of seven as a role model for conservative women. “This is historic,” Graham said.

Republicans focused on her Catholic faith, criticizing earlier Democratic questions about her beliefs. Graham called Barrett “unabashedly pro-life.”

At the start of Trump’s presidency, McConnell engineered a Senate rules change to allow confirmation by a majority of the 100 senators, rather than the 60-vote threshold traditionally needed to advance high court nominees over objections. That was an escalation of a rules change Democrats put in place to advance other court and administrative nominees under President Barack Obama.

Republicans are taking a political plunge days from the Nov. 3 election with the presidency and their Senate majority at stake.

Only one Republican — Sen. Susan Collins, who is in a tight reelection fight in Maine — voted against the nominee, not over any direct assessment of Barrett. Rather, Collins said, “I do not think it is fair nor consistent to have a Senate confirmation vote prior to the election.”

Trump and his Republican allies had hoped for a campaign boost, in much the way Trump generated excitement among conservatives and evangelical Christians in 2016 over a court vacancy. That year, McConnell refused to allow the Senate to consider then-President Barack Obama’s choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, arguing the new president should decide.

Most other Republicans facing tough races embraced the nominee who clerked for the late Scalia to bolster their standing with conservatives. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said in a speech Monday that Barrett will “go down in history as one of the great justices.”

But it’s not clear the extraordinary effort to install the new justice over such opposition in a heated election year will pay political rewards to the GOP.

Demonstrations for and against the nominee have been more muted at the Capitol under coronavirus restrictions.

Democrats were unified against Barrett. While two Democratic senators voted to confirm Barrett in 2017 after Trump nominated the Notre Dame Law School professor to the appellate court, none voted to confirm her to the high court.

In a display of party priorities, California Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, returned to Washington from the campaign trail to join colleagues with a no vote.

No other Supreme Court justice has been confirmed on a recorded vote with no support from the minority party in at least 150 years, according to information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

___

Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Andrew Taylor, Mark Sherman, Zeke Miller and Aamer Madhani in Washington and Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, Calif., contributed to this report.

Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Donald TrumpUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fire crews tend to a collision that is causing severe traffic delays on the William R. Bennett bridge headed east into Kelowna. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
7 vehicle collision on WR Bennett Bridge under investigation

The collision backed up traffic on the William R. Bennett bridge for much of the morning

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

Kelowna company celebrates milestone of producing 46 million masks in under a year.
46 million masks and counting: Kelowna company reaches 1 year milstone

In under a year, Breathe Manufacturing Ltd. in Kelowna has hit production of 46 million masks for front-line workers

Peachland’s vaccination clinic was cancelled because according to the system, no one booked appointments. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
System ‘glitch’ causes Peachland vaccination clinic cancellation

The clinic will be back in Peachland on April 22 instead

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A in Princeton

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a truck fire on Dallas Road in Vernon April 15, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
WATCH: Vernon firefighters quick to douse fully involved truck fire

The fire was near multiple structures and spreading along the ground upon crews’ arrival

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna RCMP investigating hit and run involving 11-year-old

Police said the boy suffered minor injuries

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Most Read