President Donald Trump reveled in one of his signature achievements on Monday (October 26) at a White House ceremony to celebrate U.S. Senate confirmation of his third Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, eight days before the election.
The made-for-TV prime-time event on the White House lawn culminated with Justice Clarence Thomas swearing Barrett into the Supreme Court. It mirrored another White House function one a month ago, when Barrett’s nomination was announced, which preceded a coronavirus outbreak among top Republicans including Trump himself.
A little more than an hour earlier, the Republican-controlled Senate had confirmed Barrett to the lifetime appointment on a 52-48 vote, with Democrats unified in opposition.
Her confirmation as successor to liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month, creates a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court. One Republican, Susan Collins, voted against the confirmation.
Trump, who has been touting the appointment at campaign rallies to the cheers of his supporters, had pressed the Senate to confirm Barrett, 48, before the Nov. 3 election in which he trails Democrat Joe Biden in national opinion polls. No Supreme Court justice had ever been confirmed so close to a presidential election.
In contrast to the White House event last month, more people wore masks and seats were spread out to ensure social distancing. Several of the Republican senators who voted to confirm Barrett were in attendance, although not Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has not been to the White House since August due to COVID-19 concerns.
Trump’s other Supreme Court appointees are conservatives Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Trump has said he expects the court to decide the outcome of the election and wants Barrett to participate on any election-related cases that go before the justices.
Barrett’s confirmation shifts the Supreme Court further to the right, which could pave the way to conservative rulings curbing abortion rights, expanding gun rights and limiting voting rights, among other things.
(Production: Deborah Lutterbeck & Njuwa Maina)