The Senate on Monday confirmed Trump-nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, solidifying its conservative majority eight days before Election Day.
Barrett joins the high court on the same night it rejected Democrats’ request to extend the deadline for counting mail-in ballots in Wisconsin – in what is expected to be one of several legal cases that could determine the outcome of President Trump’s reelection bid against Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
The record-setting number of mail-in ballots this year as a result of the coronavirus raises the possibility that state election officials across the country could be counting ballots days and weeks beyond Nov. 3.
The vote Monday was 52-to-48, with all but one Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, voting against the Barrett appointment. No Senate Democrat in the 100-member chamber voted in favor of Barrett.
The confirmation vote was the closest in U.S. history to an Election Day in a presidential race.
Trump at a White House ceremony after the vote said that as the president he has “no more solemn obligation and no greater honor than to appoint Supreme Court justices.”
“The American people have been profoundly impressed to learn of her achievements, her compassion, her generosity, her faith and her sterling character,” Trump said. “Justice Barrett made clear she will issue rulings based solely upon a faithful reading of the law and the Constitution as written, not legislate from the bench,” he said.
Justice Clarence Thomas administered the constitutional oath to Barrett, to the applause of a small group of supporters including her husband, Jesse, and several GOP senators. Supreme Court justices also need to take the judicial oath prior to working in the role.
“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,” Barrett said after taking the oath.
Justice John Robert is scheduled to administer the judicial oath to Barrett on Tuesday at a private ceremony at the Supreme Court, after which she will be permitted start participating in her new role.
Democrats until minutes before the Senate vote continued to argue that Barrett’s appointment will result in the high court reversing earlier decisions on such issues as abortion, gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act.
The 48-year-old Barrett, until Monday an appeals court judge and Notre Dame law professor, passed her Senate vetting process with remarkable speed. She was officially nominated by Trump on Sept. 26 — just eight days after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Democrats and others objected to Republicans filling an empty high-court seat in the final weeks of the election, despite the party having the constitutional authority. Barrett’s appointment will result in a 6-3 conservative majority.
The Senate Judiciary Committee last week advanced the Barrett nomination to the floor on a 12-0 vote, with all 12 Republican members voting yes while all of the panel’s 10 Democrats boycotted the vote.
Barrett will be the third Trump appointee seated on the nation’s high court, joining Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.