Amy Coney Barrett Confirmed To Supreme Court, Cementing Conservative Majority

Topline
After weeks of partisan back-and-forth over whether a justice should be appointed so close to the presidential election, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court on Monday, eight days before Election Day—making her the third successful nomination during President Trump’s tenure and the sixth conservative justice on the nine-person court.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett poses for a photo on October 21, 2020 in Washington, … [+] DC.

Barrett was approved to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court in a 52-48 vote that ended Monday evening, with all but one the Republican senators, who have a majority, voting in her favor.

In a preliminary vote on Sunday, Democrats attempted unsuccessfully to filibuster the nomination, which they continue to insist should have been decided by the winner of the election.

Though initially joined by two Republicans in support of delaying the confirmation—Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (AK)—Murkowski ultimately sided with her party on Monday, giving the Republicans the clean majority they needed for this final stage of the confirmation process.

This was the first time in 151 years that a justice was confirmed to the court without a single vote from the minority party.

Barrett was confirmed exactly one month after her nomination and eight days before the presidential election, making her confirmation the closest to Election Day in American history.

President Trump plans to swear in Barrett Monday night at a small White House event.

Chief Critic
Democrats, in their final speeches before the Senate earlier in the day, vowed they wouldn’t forget how Republicans “thwarted” Senate precedent and the will of the American people, with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) calling the vote “one of the darkest days in the 231-year history of the Senate.” “You may win this vote but you will never get your credibility back,” said Schumer, who warned that Americans will feel the consequences of Barrett’s confirmation for generations. “You will regret this.”

Key Background
Democrats have vehemently opposed Barrett’s confirmation due to its proximity to the election, accusing the GOP of hypocrisy for blocking former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia—months before the election. The Democrats also, citing promises from the president, expressed fear that Trump rushed through the nomination to fulfill his promises to strike down the landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade, the Obama-era Affordable Care Act and to decide in the president’s favor if he tries to contest the results of the election before the Supreme Court.

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Crucial Quote
“We don’t have any doubt that if the shoe was on the other foot they’d be doing the same thing,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.). “No rules were broken whatsoever, so all of these outlandish claims are utterly absurd.”

Tangent
During her confirmation hearings, Democrats asked Barrett to commit to recusing herself from cases relating to the 2020 election and the Trump administration, which will likely become a key topic of discussion in the next couple of weeks. Barrett said she was open to recusal but did not immediately commit.

What To Watch For
Barrett—an originalist who interprets the Constitution similarly to the late justice Antonin Scalia—has a history of near-uniformly conservative voting on cases about abortion, gun rights, discrimination and immigration. On Nov. 10, Barrett will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, which Democrats say is why their Republican colleagues wanted Barrett on the bench so quickly.

Further Reading
“Here Are The Biggest Cases Amy Coney Barrett Will Help Decide On The Supreme Court This Term” (Forbes)

“What We Can Tell About Barrett From The Legal Precedents She Will And Won’t Comment On” (Forbes)