The United States Senate on Monday confirmed conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court as a replacement to former liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September, AFP reported. The House voted 52-48 to confirm her nomination. This gives the court a 6-3 conservative majority and marks a landmark win for President Donald Trump just a week before the presidential election.
All Democrats voted against Barrett’s confirmation. Republican Senator Susan Collins also voted against confirming a jury so close to the election.
The White House will organise a swearing-in ceremony for Barrett on Monday evening. Justice Clarence Thomas will administer the oath of office. Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the judicial oath at the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Barrett said she was humbled by the confirmation. “I stand here tonight, truly honoured and humbled,” said the 48-year-old religious conservative jurist.
President Trump hailed Barrett’s confirmation, calling it “a momentous day” for the US. “This is a momentous day for America, for the United States Constitution and for the fair and impartial rule of law,” said Trump.
Democrats criticised the hasty confirmation. “You may win this vote.... But you will never ever get your credibility back,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “In the process, you will speed the precipitous decline of faith in our institutions, our politics, the Senate and the Supreme Court. You will give an already divided nation a fresh outrage.”
Barrett has been described as a devout Roman Catholic, who believes “life begins at conception”. Many fear that her confirmation as a Supreme Court judge could lead to the curbing of abortion rights, a widely-debated topic in the United States. Conservatives also hope that she will rule against the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance scheme introduced by former President Barack Obama. Earlier, Barrett has ruled in favour of Trump’s immigration policies and spoken for expansive gun rights.
Barrett is the third judge to be nominated to the Supreme Court by Trump, including Neil Gorsuch in 2017, and Brett Kavanaugh – accused of sexual assault by multiple women – in 2018. Trump has cited the alleged mistreatment of Kavanaugh as one of the reasons for Barrett’s speedy confirmation.