On Monday, Oct. 26, the Senate voted 52–48 to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Later that night, she was sworn in by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas on the south lawn of the executive mansion at the White House.
"I am grateful for the confidence you have expressed in me, and I pledge to you and to the American people that I will discharge my duties to the very best of my ability," said Justice Barrett upon being sworn in, according to CBS News.
The confirmation ceremony occurred eight days before Election Day, which is Tuesday, Nov. 3. This confirmation is the closest Supreme Court confirmation ever to a presidential election.
Far more COVID-19 precautions were taken at Monday’s swearing-in ceremony than were taken at Justice Barrett’s Rose Garden, “super-spreader” nomination ceremony on Sept. 26. This time, face coverings were required, and attendees were spread out.
The Senate was divided along party lines regarding the vote. All Democratic senators voted against confirming Justice Barrett, while all Republican Senators—with the exclusion of Sen. Susan Collins of Maine—voted for her confirmation. According to the New York Times, this is the first time in 151 years that a Justice has been confirmed without the vote of at least one minority party member.
Democrats opposed the occurrence of a vote so close to the election, and attempted to stall the vote until the winner of the 2020 presidential election was announced. Their attempts were futile. However, Senate minority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, warned Republicans of the consequences of their rush to hold the vote before the election.
“You may win this vote, and Amy Coney Barrett may become the next associate justice of the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Schumer, according to the New York Times. “But you will never, never get your credibility back. And the next time the American people give Democrats a majority in this chamber, you will have forfeited the right to tell us how to run that majority.”
Since the nomination process began, Republicans have been criticized for pushing to hold a vote to confirm a justice so close to an election, after blocking President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland eight months prior to the 2016 election.
Republican Senate majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said on Monday: "We don't have any doubt, do we, that if the shoe was on the other foot, they'd be confirming. You can't win them all, and elections have consequences."
Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court has made for a 6–3 conservative majority within the Court. Judge Barrett is only 48 years old, and her lifetime appointment makes it likely that she will serve on the Court for decades.
The conservative makeup of the Court is alarming for many Democrats and progressives. Many fear how Justice Barrett’s vote will affect relevant cases.
According to the BBC, Justice Barrett will see a “Trump-backed challenge to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare,” in the Court on Nov. 10.
Because President Trump vowed to only appoint Justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, there is also fear that the now-conservative dominated Court will overturn the landmark case that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.
According to CNN, the Court could also potentially decide any disputes that occur regarding the outcome of the presidential election.
Justice Barrett was appointed to the Supreme Court to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat. Justice Ginsburg died of cancer on Sept. 18, 2020. Justice Ginsburg uttered the following words to her granddaughter, Clara Spera, just days before she died:
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."