Barrett confirmed as Supreme Court justice in partisan vote

Judge Amy Coney Barrett listens as President Donald Trump announces Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House, on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court  late Monday by a deeply divided Senate, Republicans overpowering Democrats to install President Donald Trump’s nominee days before the election and secure a likely conservative court majority for years to come.

Trump’s choice to fill the vacancy of the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg  potentially opens a new era of rulings on abortion, the Affordable Care Act and even his own election. Democrats were unable to stop the outcome, Trump’s third justice on the court, as Republicans race to reshape the judiciary.

Barrett, 48, is a University of Notre Dame law professor and her lifetime appointment as the 115th justice will solidify the court’s rightward tilt.

“Judge Amy Coney Barrett is another in a long line of Hoosiers prepared to make our state proud at the federal level,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement. “I’m confident her experience and intellect will continue to guide her as she welcomes this new, awesome responsibility.”

Monday’s 52-48 vote was the closest high court confirmation ever to a presidential election, and the first in modern times with no support from the minority party. The spiking COVID-19 crisis has hung over the proceedings. Vice President Mike Pence’s office said Monday he would not preside at the Senate session unless his tie-breaking vote was needed after Democrats asked him to stay away when his aides tested positive for COVID-19. His vote was not necessary.

With Barrett’s confirmation assured, Trump was expected to celebrate with a primetime swearing-in event at the White House. Justice Clarence Thomas was set to administer the Constitutional Oath, a senior White House official said.

“This is something to be really proud of and feel good about,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said during a rare weekend session Sunday ahead of voting. He scoffed at the “apocalyptic” warnings from critics that the judicial branch was becoming mired in partisan politics and declared that “they won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”

Pence’s presence presiding for the vote would have been expected, showcasing the Republican priority. But Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and his leadership team said it would not only violate virus guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “it would also be a violation of common decency and courtesy.”

Some GOP senators tested positive for the coronavirus following a Rose Garden event with Trump to announce Barrett’s nomination last month, but they have since said they have been cleared by their doctors from quarantine. Pence was not infected and his office said the vice president tested negative for the virus Monday.

Democrats argued for weeks that the vote was being improperly rushed and insisted during an all-night Sunday session it should be up to the winner of the Nov. 3 election to name the nominee. However, Barrett, a federal appeals court judge from Indiana, is expected to be seated swiftly, and begin hearing cases.

Speaking near midnight Sunday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called the vote “illegitimate” and “the last gasp of a desperate party.”

Several matters are awaiting decision just a week before Election Day, and Barrett could be a decisive vote in Republican appeals of orders extending the deadlines for absentee ballots in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

The justices also are weighing Trump’s emergency plea for the court to prevent the Manhattan District Attorney from acquiring his tax returns. And on Nov. 10, the court is expected to hear the Trump-backed challenge to the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.

Trump has said he wanted to swiftly install a ninth justice to resolve election disputes and is hopeful the justices will end the health law known as “Obamacare.”

During several days of public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barrett was careful not to disclose how she would rule on any such cases.

She presented herself as a neutral arbiter and suggested, “It’s not the law of Amy.” But her writings against abortion and a ruling on “Obamacare” show a deeply conservative thinker.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, praised the mother of seven as a role model — “a conservative woman who embraces her faith.” Republicans focused on her Catholic religion, dismissing earlier Democratic questions about her beliefs. Graham said Barrett is “unabashedly pro-life, but she’s not going to apply ‘the law of Amy’ to all of us.”

At the start of Trump’s presidency, McConnell engineered a Senate rules change to allow confirmation by a majority of the 100 senators, rather than the 60-vote threshold traditionally needed to advance high court nominees over objections. That was an escalation of a rules change Democrats put in place to advance other court and administrative nominees under President Barack Obama.

Republicans are taking a political plunge by pushing for confirmation days from the Nov. 3 election with the presidency and their Senate majority at stake.

Only one Republican — Sen. Susan Collins, who is in a tight reelection fight in Maine — voted against the nominee, not over any direct assessment of Barrett. Rather, Collins said, “I do not think it is fair nor consistent to have a Senate confirmation vote prior to the election.”

Trump and his Republican allies had hoped for a campaign boost, in much the way Trump generated excitement among conservatives and evangelical Christians in 2016 over a court vacancy. That year, McConnell refused to allow the Senate to consider then-President Barack Obama’s choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, arguing the new president should decide.

Most other Republicans facing tough races embraced the nominee to bolster their standing with conservatives. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said in a speech Monday that Barrett will “go down in history as one of the great justices.”

But it’s not clear the extraordinary effort to install the new justice over such opposition in a heated election year will pay political rewards to the GOP.

Demonstrations for and against the nominee have been more muted at the Capitol under coronavirus restrictions.

Democrats are unified against Barrett. While two Democratic senators voted to confirm Barrett in 2017 after Trump nominated the Notre Dame Law School professor to the appellate court, none voted to confirm her to the high court.

In a display of party priorities, California Sen. Kamala Harris, the vice presidential nominee, returned to Washington from the campaign trail to join colleagues with a no vote.

No other Supreme Court justice has been confirmed on a recorded vote with no support from the minority party in at least 150 years, according to information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

___

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

18 thoughts on “Barrett confirmed as Supreme Court justice in partisan vote

  1. Good news…and so indicative of a seriously-divided country. It’s been said she would have had 70 votes to confirm had Donald Trump not been the President who nominated her, so it’s a valid question to wonder how long the country can survive like this. Too many people look at the 1860s War Between the States and foolishly think it can’t happen again, but it is. It’s taking a different form this time around, but it is happening.

    How long can this go on before the country implodes? We’re about to find out…and George Soros and the Globalist cabal of which he is a part will dance on our country’s grave.

    1. Bob P., you talk about a divided country and then you comment about George Soros and the ‘Globalist cabal’? What a frightening display of bias, ignorance and anti-Semitism. George Soros is a philanthropist who went through the Holocaust and understands what immigrants and displaced people experience. He contributes to help those in need. There is no evidence or truth to the persistent dog whistle that he is part of a cabal.

      It is instead a repeat of charges that have been leveled against Jews for centuries as justification for the violence perpetrated against them. This whole ‘whole world order’ BS of Jews plotting to take over the world is what Hitler used against the Jews. We saw how powerful Jews were then. Hitler trotted out the phony ‘Elders of Zion’ fabrication that has been proven to be a lie created in the late 1800’s. Jews were rampaged, raped and slaughtered for centuries leading to Hitler’s mass murder – justified in part by this lie.

      What you wrote is ignorant and dangerous. Assassination attempts have been made against Soros because of this crap. So if you want to stop this country from being divided into another civil war, start with yourself. Stop burying your head in the sand of social media lies that do not have to be vetted by a competent journalist and falling further down this malevolent rabbit hole. It is a dark fairy tale with real world consequences. If there is any cabal in this country it’s led by WASPS, the ones with the real power. The rich white males in the moneyed class who have held onto their money and positions of power for centuries who are so afraid of losing their grip now that our country is heading to a majority POC in a few decades that they’re willing to foment discord to hold on.

      Did you ever see Freedom Summer – a documentary on PBS? That’s the cabal. The hideous racist people in power murdering and intimidating and keeping Blacks from voting with all manner of dirty tricks to hold on by any means necessary. We’re seeing a nationwide version of that now with Trump and his dog whistles to racists and anti-Semites, and you are a willing subject. I am so sick and tired of ignorance overpowering the facts because of people like you who are primed to buy it.

    2. Laurie – suggesting that criticism of Soros defaults as anti-Semitism is disgustingly ignorant and divisive.

    3. Chris: It is anti-Semitic. Making a baseless, unfounded claim and pushing a conspiracy theory around “Globalist cabal” (a long-standing slander against Jewish people and their supposed power) based on a Jewish man is anti-Semitic. The end.

  2. Current Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Joe Manchin voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the appellate court in 2017, along with former Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly.

    Today Senators Kaine and Manchin voted against Amy Coney Barrett in confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court. Appears to be some flip-floppin’ partisan politics at play.

    Congratulations Justice Barrett, for earning this distinguished honor, that we will all benefit from for many years to come, no matter what party you support.

    1. To me the most comical part of this has been the idea that if the democrats were in charge they would wait until after the election to let the new President nominate his choice. You seriously want me to believe that? Furthermore to spew hatred and call her appointment, illegal and we will “undo what Republicans have done”. You’ve controlled the courts for years and Bush gave you a gift with Roberts so there. Ginsberg had eight years to retire and let Obama appoint someone else.

  3. Today is just the start of what will be a great week+ for our country, Culminating with a LANDSLIDE win by President Trump-getting more electoral votes than he won in 2016
    My advice to Democrats after this happens:
    Get rid of Schumer, Pelosi, et al as the face of your DNC power cabal. Replace them with fresh faces that have positive ideas. That will lead to WINNING elections instead of WHINING about all aspects of how you’ve been mistreated in them.
    Actually let the people of your party choose their Presidential candidate as opposed to the power-hungry group at the DNC as they have done the last two Presidential elections. Then and only then will there be actual enthusiasm for your candidate.
    Also, try at least to pretend that you care about what’s good for America instead of what’s good for your elite power circle. Every time things don’t go your way, stop with the mindless threats and retaliatory rhetoric.
    Lastly, decouple from your PR wing of national lame stream media.that people no longer respect, trust, or frankly even watch any more. These dim wits and their pathetic attempts to influence thought and opinion do the party more harm than good. It’s fresh ideas that will get you respect, support, and ultimately votes.

    1. You think if they lose they will quietly go back to their lives. Even their leaders are spewing revenge every time their not getting their way like with judge Barrett. Lose a seat in the court….no problem, just add two more to make up for it. Oh, you need three, that’s fine just add three and by the way they could care less about the Constitution and our Bill of Rights. I have heard Cory Booker, AOC and others more or less say that. They want to “blow up the system”, add a few more democratic senate seats while your at it, have one party rule and the courts can simply be a tool to legally rubber stamp what they have put into place. People need to wake up. Our democracy that people from around the world have always looked up to is in serious danger of collapsing. Their are people dying in other parts of the world right now to have what we have. Respect the vote! I certainly will and if I lose I will go back to my life and wait for my next turn. I did that with eight years of Obama.

  4. Wow IBJ & AP, leave no doubt about your political preferences. Go cry us a river. You mention changing Senate rules like it’s something Republicans invented and never bring up the king of sleaze, Harry Reid, a Democrat. Remember what he did? Good journalism at least by today’s standards. Democrats are the inventors of partisan politics and hypocrisy. I’ll never forget O’Bama smugly saying to Republicans ….”Elections have consequences”. I guess they do. Now the Democrats will take nuclear to another level.

  5. So if you dont like someone and their views and they happen to be Jewish you ate an anti- semite? Laurie and A.T. you really need to stop finding offense with everything.

  6. “Republicans are taking a political plunge”. Really IBJ? “Journalist” much? Clearly a brilliant judge was appointed, but the “unifying party” threw a temper tantrum because they didn’t get their way.

  7. I’m with Rhea and Bob. Dems perceive any Supreme Court appointment through their partisan lens. They have no idea what a strict interpretation of the Constitution means. Trump anti-semitic? I doubt if anyone who says that knows he moved the Capital of Israel to Jerusalem and that he has begun a real Mideast peace process. Or, that his son-in-law and daughter are Jewish. The left is intolerant, as evidenced by comments here. I noted in some other article that said there are fewer polling places in Marion County. It said a Republican on the 3-person panel was asked about this. There are also two Democrats, but this was omitted from the article. I deleted it so can’t refer back to it to quote to be precise. To get real news, I would recommend the WSJ if you don’t already subscribe to it. IBJ, be careful what you wish for, as you just might get it. i

    1. Susie D, thank you for the WSJ recommendation. I subscribed earlier today and am loving it. Kind of pricy, but if I get the value out of it which I think I will then it’s worth it. I am going to be looking for “real news” from now on. After this election’s coverage and non coverage of important issues, I’m really going to be picky with what I read. I want both sides with the key word being both sides. I am outraged by the coverage the lack of important questions JB is getting during this election. It reminds me of when Obama was running only worse. This time they don’t even try to hide their biases and to ignore important stories is the last straw for me. I’m not including the IBJ in this rant and will continue to support them.

    2. The WSJ weekend edition (Sat./Sun.) is not as expensive as the daily subscription, but you’d miss some great op/eds and other news, including the fun Mansion section on Friday. I’m not so sure I will renew IBJ, as it seems it has veered to the left – definitely not neutral and unbiased anymore.

  8. Thank you for the tips and I’ll certainly check out the fun Mansion section. I agree with your IBJ opinion. I’m beyond shocked that none of them will talk about the Joe Biden scandal. That omission alone tells me their trying to affect the election outcome. Imagine if that was Trump instead of Biden. We’d hear about it 24/7 and nothing else even if was just a rumor vs the facts we are seeing from this. Combine that with what Google, FB and Twitter are doing this whole media bias has me really upset and determined to find reliable sources that will give both sides.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets in {{ count_down }} days.