Republican Senators voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the next Supreme Court Justice, cementing the court's conservative lean for generations to come. Coney Barrett, 48, was confirmed precisely one week before election day and a month after the death of liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Democrats were powerless to stop Coney Barrett's fast-paced confirmation, and only one Republican voted against Coney Barrett's confirmation. The final vote count was 52-48.
Barrett's confirmation will be the closest a Supreme Court justice has been approved to a presidential election in history and the first time a justice was confirmed without a single vote from the minority party, notes the Associated Press. Republicans hold 53 seats and needed just 51 votes to confirm Coney Barrett, allowing Maine Sen. Susan Collins to vote against the confirmation as she faces a tough re-election campaign. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined Democrats in voting against the procedural vote on Sunday, but she voted for Coney Barrett in the end, as she said over the weekend.
"I believe that the only way to put us back on the path of appropriate consideration of judicial nominees is to evaluate Judge Barrett as we would want to be judged -- on the merits of her qualifications. And we do that when that final question comes before us. And when it does, I will be a yes," Murkowski said Saturday, reports CNN.
Democrats repeatedly voiced opposition to Coney Barrett's confirmation, arguing that it was too close to the election and put the Affordable Care Act's future, abortion rights, and same-sex marriage on the line. In February 2016, Senate Republicans refused to hold hearings on President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia because it was too close to that election. This time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued the situation was different because both the president and the White House are held by the same party. However, Democrats could not do anything to stop the confirmation process. Democratic senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee boycotted the vote to advance the nomination by putting pictures of people who rely on the ACA.
Coney Barrett was a professor at Notre Dame before Trump nominated her as a judge to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2017. Trump nominated her to fill Ginsburg's seat on Sept. 26, just eight days after Ginsburg's death. She is Trump's third appointed Supreme Court Justice to be confirmed in just one term.