Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States on Monday evening, with only a week left until Election Day. Her confirmation is the culmination of an unprecedented five-week push by Senate Republicans to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barrett’s nomination cements a 6-3 conservative majority in the Supreme Court and will shift the Court to the right for years to come.
Barrett was confirmed in a 52-48 vote, with all Senate Republicans but one – Susan Collins of Maine – voting in support. Senate Democrats unanimously opposed the confirmation, marking the first time since 1869 that a justice was confirmed without a single supporting vote from the minority party.
President Trump almost immediately hosted a swearing-in ceremony on the White House lawn, during which Justice Clarence Thomas administered the Constitutional oath to Barrett.
Barrett joins Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh as President Trump’s third confirmed nominee to the Supreme Court. Trump is the first president since Ronald Reagan to fill three Court seats. Barrett’s confirmation is a huge victory for Trump, looking to boost his campaign days before the presidential election.
Barrett has served as an appeals court judge for three years and has taught as a Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School. She was also a clerk for former Justice Antonin Scalia, who was notable for his conservative rulings.
A devout Catholic, Barrett’s commitment to her faith is reflected in her conservative stances on several major issues. Her confirmation was met by alarm from pro-choice groups, concerned with the threat Barrett poses to the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade.
Barrett also joins Justices Thomas and Alito in her disagreement with the 2015 decision
Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to
marry under the 14th Amendment. The addition of Barrett to the Court has sparked fear in the
LGBTQ+ community that this landmark case will be overturned.
Barrett’s rushed confirmation process has sparked outrage among Senate Democrats, who oppose the filling of a Supreme Court seat so close to the election. Democrats have leveled accusations of hypocrisy against Senate Republicans, who in 2016 refused to hold hearings for
Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland on claims that the filling of Scalia’s seat was also too close to the election. Obama’s nomination of Garland came nearly eight months prior to Election Day.
Senate Democrats tried desperately to slow down Barrett’s confirmation process. They boycotted a vote to advance the nomination process and attempted to adjourn the Senate before the confirmation vote. Despite such efforts, the Republican majority in the Senate meant
Barrett’s confirmation was all but inevitable.
Senate Republicans insisted it was their right as majority party to move forward with the
nomination, regardless of proximity to Election Day and the 60 million votes that have already been cast.
“What this administration and this Republican Senate has done is exercise the power that was given to us by the American people in a manner that is entirely within the rules of the Senate and the Constitution of the United States,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said when responding to criticisms.
Senate Democrats have warned that Republicans will regret confirming Barrett if they win back the majority. Calls to end the filibuster and expand the number of seats on the Court will mean broad systemic changes should the Democrats take control of the Senate.
Barrett’s influence may be felt immediately as cases regarding the validity of mail-in ballots in swing states await the Supreme Court. Cases on abortion rights, same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act are soon to follow.