The U.S. Senate confirmed federal appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a seat on the Supreme Court in a 52-48 vote late Monday.
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine joined the entire Democratic caucus voting against Barrett’s confirmation. Collins said she would not vote for Barrett’s confirmation because of the proximity of the vote to next week’s presidential election.
According to the AP, no other Supreme Court justice has been confirmed on a recorded vote with no support from the minority party in at least 150 years.
Barrett is the third justice on the nine-member court to be nominated by President Donald Trump and significantly tip its ideological balance toward a 6-3 conservative majority.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is expected to swear Barrett in at a White House ceremony planned later Monday evening.
Democrats argued that the decision of picking a nominee for the seat should have been left up to whichever candidate wins the presidential election, a stance Republicans held when there was an election-year vacancy in early 2016. Republicans then refused to consider Democratic President Barack Obama’s nomination of another appellate judge, Merrick Garland.
“The Senate is doing the right thing” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday when advancing Barrett’s confirmation. “We’re moving this nomination forward.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called the vote “illegitimate” and “the last gasp of a desperate party,” the AP reported.
Barrett could potentially consider election disputes involving Trump, although it is unclear whether she might recuse herself since Trump named her to the court. She declined to say at her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee two weeks ago whether she will avoid hearing disputes over extended deadlines for voters to return mail-in ballots and other issues Republicans and Democrats are contesting.
Barrett almost assuredly would be among the justices hearing a new challenge November 10 on whether to invalidate the country’s Affordable Care Act, which Trump has sought to overturn.
The law, popularly known as Obamacare after the former president who championed its passage in 2010, is a measure that helps provide health care to millions of Americans. Its fate is a crucial concern for many people amid the surging number of new coronavirus cases in the United States.
Republicans have long argued that Obamacare costs taxpayers too much and gives government too much control over health care. The Republican-led Congress in 2017 eliminated the law’s mandate requiring that people buy health insurance if they could afford to do so. They now want the Supreme Court to invalidate the entire statute, saying that without that key insurance provision, the rest of the legislation is invalid.