Barrett will be Trump's third justice appointed to the Supreme Court, the most for any president since Ronald Reagan
The Senate voted
52-48 on Monday night to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in a move that
makes the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge and Notre Dame law professor
the third appointment to the high court by President
Trump, solidifying his administration's legacy even further just a week
before Election Day as he seeks a second term.
The last president to nominate three new justices to the
Supreme Court was Ronald Reagan.
Monday's vote marked the end of a confirmation
process that lasted less than 40 days from when late Justice Ruth
Bader Ginsburg died to when her successor, Barrett, was confirmed.
During that time Democrats objected loudly to the speed and timing of the
confirmation just before an election. Meanwhile, Republicans have
touted Barrett's record as an academic and a judge as impeccable -- and her
"Well Qualified" rating from the American Bar Association (ABA)
whose representatives relayed descriptions of her as "brilliant" and
an "intellectual giant."
Barrett is expected to be sworn in by Justice
Clarence Thomas at the White House on Monday night.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was the only Republican to
vote against Barrett after expressing objections to moving a Supreme Court
nomination before an election after Republicans blocked Obama nominee Merrick
Garland ahead of the 2016 election. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has also
expressed the same concerns as Collins and voted against a procedural
motion to advance Barrett's nomination on Sunday, but she voted for the
nominee Monday after saying she would not hold her process objections against
All 45 Democrats and two independents who caucus
with the Democrats voted against Barrett's confirmation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on
Sunday, as the Senate advanced a procedural motion that set up the Monday vote,
that his party should "feel good about" their involvement in
moving Barrett's confirmation forward.
"This is something to really be proud of and feel
good about. We made an important contribution to the future of this
country," McConnell said as the Senate advanced Barrett for
confirmation for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. "A lot of what
we've done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the next
election ... They won't be able to do much about this for a long time to
McConnell has made a point to prioritize judicial
nominations during the nearly four years Trump has been the
president. Barrett will be the 220th federal judge appointed by Trump to
this point in his first term, trailing only Jimmy Carter all-time.
McConnell's dogged focus on judicial appointments led to
there being zero remaining vacancies on federal courts of appeals -- although
Barrett's confirmation Monday creates another for him to fill.
Monday's vote followed 30 consecutive hours of floor
debate -- running overnight Sunday into Monday -- after Republicans invoked
cloture on the Barrett nomination in a rare Sunday session.
The Barrett confirmation fight was not nearly as chaotic
as the previous fight over Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, which
involved lurid accusations of sexual assault against the nominee and multiple
rounds of hearings. In fact, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne
Feinstein, D-Calif., called the Barrett hearings "one of the best Senate
hearings that I've participated in."
She added to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey
Graham, R-S.C.: "I want to thank you for your fairness and the opportunity
of going back and forth."
Graham responded: "I know we have very different
views about the judge and whether we should be doing this or not. But having
said all that, to my Democratic colleagues, you have challenged the judge, you
have challenged us, and I accept those challenges as being sincere and not personal."
The collegiality between the longtime senators does not
mean the nomination wasn't hard-fought, however. Interest groups on
both sides poured tens of millions of dollars into advertising and Senate
Democrats pulled out every conceivable procedural stop to pressure
That included Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer,
D-N.Y., forcing several procedural votes on topics from health care to
coronavirus relief to shutting down the Senate. In one stunt that was
particularly effective at squeezing the GOP, Schumer forced a vote on a
measure that would ban the Justice Department from arguing against the
constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as it currently plans to
when a case against it comes before the Supreme Court on Nov. 10.
The "cloture" motion on that failed 51-43
-- it needed 60 votes to pass -- but succeeded in getting six moderate or
electorally vulnerable Republican senators to back it.
Beyond that, Senate Democrats even boycotted the
beginning of the first markup on Barrett's nomination on Oct. 15 and the
entirety of the second on Oct. 21, forcing the GOP to forge ahead
by waiving committee rules that require at least two members of the
minority party to be present for the committee to do business.
But despite the pressure tactics from Democrats,
Republicans stuck together and seem to have votes to confirm Barrett. For many
of the GOP senators, Barrett's qualifications were inescapable and were the
most important factors in their votes.
"I consider Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be the most
qualified Supreme Court nominee that I've encountered in my 34 years in the
United States Senate," Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said Monday.
"I regret that we could not do it the normal way.
But what I don't regret is reporting her out of committee," Graham said
after the Judiciary Committee gave a 12-0 favorable recommendation of Barrett,
with all the committee's Democrats boycotting. "I could not have lived with
myself if I denied her her day."
Fox News' John Roberts contributed to this report.