The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate handed President Donald Trump a major pre-election political victory on Monday (October 26) by confirming his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, with the White House planning a celebratory event afterward.
The Senate voted 52-48, with Democrats unified in opposing Barrett’s confirmation, which creates a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court. One Republican, Susan Collins, voted against the confirmation.
The ceremony planned at the White House comes a month after a similar event was linked to a COVID-19 outbreak that preceded Trump’s own infection. Barrett will succeed liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month.
At the ceremony, conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will administer one of the two oaths of office that justices have to take, according to a White House official.
Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the separate judicial oath at the court on Tuesday, the court said in a statement.
Trump pressed the Senate to confirm Barrett, 48, to the lifetime post before the Nov. 3 election, which would create a 6-3 conservative majority on the top U.S. judicial body.
Senate Minority Chuck Schumer said the Republican majority was “lighting its credibility on fire” by proceeding with the vote so close to the election after blocking Democratic President Barack Obama’s election-year nominee in 2016.
Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended Barrett’s nomination. “You can’t win them all, and elections have consequences,” McConnell said.
No nominee to the Supreme Court had ever been confirmed by the Senate this close to a presidential election. Trump has been touting the appointment at campaign rallies to the cheers of his supporters.
Trump has said he expects the court to decide the outcome of the election between him and Democrat Joe Biden and wants Barrett to participate on any election-related cases that go before the justices.
Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, is Trump’s third selection for the court, enabling him to remake it in dramatic fashion as part of his success in moving the broader federal judiciary to the right since taking office in 2017.
(Production by Deborah Lutterbeck)