Judge Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as the next Supreme Court Justice, just one month after President Donald Trump nominated her to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barrett was confirmed in a party-line vote in the Senate, with no Democratic Senators voting to confirm her and just one Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, voting against. Barrett is the 115th Supreme Court justice in the country's history and the fifth woman to serve on the court.
After the confirmation vote, the White House hosted the swearing-in ceremony, with Justice Clarence Thomas administering the Constitutional Oath, a White House official told The Hill before the event. The White House hosted similar swearing-in ceremonies for Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, but questions were raised about hosting the event during the coronavirus pandemic. Several coronavirus cases were tied to the Rose Garden ceremony last month when Trump officially nominated Barrett, with Trump himself being diagnosed with COVID-19 days later.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett is sworn in by Justice Clarence Thomas.October 27, 2020
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said social distancing would be encouraged for Barrett's swearing-in ceremony, and it would be held outdoors. "The very first event, while there’s a whole lot of connections that have been made with who was at the event and who came down with it, we’ve been able to look at that and track as many as three different areas where the virus actually infected different people within the White House," Meadows told reporters Monday. "So, it didn't all come from that particular event." He later added the White House will be "doing the best we can" to encourage social distancing.
Steve Mnuchin, Maureen Scalia, Robert O’Brien, Mark Meadows, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, James Lankford, Martha McSally, Elaine Chao, Virginia Thomas among guests here at White House for Amy Coney Barrett oath. pic.twitter.com/Vh2YGx7fhW— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) October 27, 2020
Before the event, Republican senators were split on attending the event. Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota told CNN he planned to go as it is an outdoor event. “It sounds like it’s an outdoor event I mean, that would certainly help that," Cramer said. "Obviously, a lot more room, as well as the clean air, so I'm not, I'm not overly concerned. I'm certainly not concerned for myself. I’ll do my part." Sen. Rick Scott said he had not decided yet, adding it was "important that people wear masks and they social distance."
Barrett's fast-paced journey from nominee to justice was criticized by Democrats, who argued it was too close to the presidential election on Nov. 3. They accused Republicans of hypocrisy, noting that they refused even to hold hearings on President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia in February 2016. As the minority party, Democrats could not stop the process, though, and Republicans argued that this time was different because the same party holds both the White House and Senate.