WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court late Monday evening. The 52-48 vote cements the body’s conservative majority.
Barrett, 48, was nominated by President Donald Trump 30 days ago to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September. She is the 115th justice confirmed to the high court in its 231-year history, the youngest justice on the court and only the fifth woman ever to sit on its bench.
Barrett, an appeals court judge and protégée of former Justice Antonin Scalia, could begin work as early as Tuesday morning because justices are cleared to assume their duties as soon as they are sworn in, The New York Times reported.
She will not, however, be allowed to participate in cases that have already been argued. But if the court deadlocks on a case, it can be set down for re-argument before the full court, including Barrett, the Times reported.
The vote proceeded despite protests from the chamber’s Democrats who have called the process a “sham,” after the Republican-led Senate refused to hold hearings in 2016 for then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, nearly eight months before that year’s election.
The vote also marked the first time in 151 years that a justice was confirmed without a single vote from the minority party, the Times reported.
Susan Collins, R-Maine, cast the lone Republican nay.
Prior to Monday’s vote, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., excoriated his Republican colleagues for finessing Barrett’s nomination through in barely four weeks.
“The American people will never forget this blatant act of bad faith. They will never forget your complete disregard for their voices for the people standing in line right now voting their choice, not your choice,” Schumer said from the Senate floor, before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had the final word before the vote.
“The reason we were able to do what we did in 2016, 2018 and 2020 is because we had the majority,” McConnell said, adding, “No rules were broken whatsoever, so all of these outlandish claims are utterly absurd. And the louder they scream, the more inaccurate they are.”
Barrett’s swearing-in ceremony was slated to occur at the White House later Monday night, with Justice Clarence Thomas expected to deliver the constitutional oath - one of two oaths justices take, The Washington Post reported.
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