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

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

Bears are coming out of hibernation with the warm days of spring. (Pixabay)
WildSafeBC: How to avoid bear encounters

Bears can now be seen out on the trails after waking up from hibernation

Rossland City Council issued a press release critical of Mayor Kathy Moore's travel to the U.S.
Rossland council addresses issue of mayor’s travel to U.S.

Prior to her trip, some councillors and staff expressed deep concerns about her plans

Teck has reported three separate incidents of ammonia leaks at Trail fertilizer ops this year. Photo: Trail Times
Teck Trail reports third ammonia leak this year

The company closed Bingay Road temporarily as a precaution

Photo: File
Fruitvale councillor responds to online criticism

“The bullying has to stop. People want to be heard, everybody wants to be heard” - Lindsay Kenny

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O���Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

(Kamloops This Week file photo)
Federal police unit takes over probe of B.C. regional district’s spending

Financial Integrity Sensitive Investigations Unit is now reviewing the case

A black bear made a visit to downtown Vancouver Tuesday, May 4. The animal was spotted on train tracks in Gastown shortly after at 2:30 p.m. (Twitter/Craig Minielly)
VIDEO: Black bear spotted meandering around downtown Vancouver

The bear was reportedly tranquilized by conservation officers Tuesday afternoon

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Interior Health locks out Kelowna martial arts gym following COVID violations

Actions were taken after all other steps to gain compliance were exhausted, says health authority

A man who allegedly spat at and yelled racial slurs at an Asian family was arrested for hate-motivated assault Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Arrest made after man spits, yells anti-Asian racial slurs at Victoria mom and kids

The man was arrested for hate-motivated assault near Quadra Elementary School Tuesday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A lady wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada may find it challenging to reach herd immunity from COVID-19, experts say

Level of immunity among the population changes with the variants, especially the more transmissible strains

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

Most Read