Government

Amy Coney Barrett Confirmed to Supreme Court, Sworn in at White House Celebration

Here we go again.

Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court was confirmed by the Senate on Monday, October 26, in a 52-48 vote. The move means Barrett, 48, now has a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the country; if she serves as long as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who she is replacing, she will be on the court until 2047, potentially shifting SCOTUS’s balance to the right for decades.

On Twitter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell celebrated Barrett's appointment, calling her, “One of the most impressive nominees for public office in a generation will serve for life on our highest court.”

According to what senior administration sources told ABC News on Sunday, the White House is planning an outdoor swearing-in ceremony Monday night. Asked about the size of the event Monday, Trump said it would be “not a large event, just a very nice event.” CNN white house correspondent Kaitlan Collins reported Monday evening that the White House officially announced the event would on the South Lawn, writing that even though it was expected to be of a similar size, it's a bigger space allowing for more social distancing. Justice Clarance Thomas appeared alongside President Trump at the Monday evening event to swear Barrett in.

“It's a privilege to be asked to serve my country in this office, and I stand here tonight truly honored and humbled,” Barrett said after taking the oath at the event. She offered her thanks to the Senate, especially McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Barrett also addressed concerns about whether her faith might influence her rulings, saying. “A judge declares independence not only from Congress and the president, but also from the private beliefs that might otherwise move her.”

Vice President Mike Pence did not preside over the Senate vote. Ten high-profile senators had asked Pence in a letter to “reconsider” being there because at least five of his aides have tested positive for COVID-19, according to CNN. His office said on Monday that both Pence and his wife had tested negative, but an aide later told reporters Pence was campaigning in Minnesota and wasn't going to attend unless his vote was necessary.

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The path to Barrett’s confirmation began with a White House celebration that turned into what Dr. Anthony Fauci later called a COVID-19 superspreader event. Since then, Barrett’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee have prompted protests, personal stories of the reproductive rights she might put at risk, congressional exposés on a conservative dark money “scheme” to pull the federal judiciary to the right. That was all before the committee's Republicans advanced her nomination while Democrats boycotted the vote.

Democrats condemned the vote on Monday, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) calling it “one of the darkest days" in the history of the Senate. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), the Democratic vice presidential nominee and a member of the Judiciary Committee, wrote on Twitter, “Today Republicans denied the will of the American people by confirming a Supreme Court justice through an illegitimate process—all in their effort to gut the Affordable Care Act and strip health care from millions with pre-existing conditions. We won’t forget this.”

Barrett will now take the seat of Ginsburg, one of the most famous liberal justices in U.S. history. Mere hours after RBG’s passing, McConnell pledged that President Donald Trump would get to appoint a new Supreme Court justice before the 2020 election. Democrats opposed the rushed appointment in an election year, a reminder of what Republicans did to block Merrick Garland’s 2016 SCOTUS nomination in the last year of the Barack Obama administration. But then, as now, Republicans controlled the Senate and ultimately get the final say on the confirmation vote.

On Sunday evening, there was a Democratic attempt to stop Barrett’s nomination. Among those who spoke out on the Senate floor were senators and former 2020 presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Michael Bennett (D-CO). But a vote to end debate passed 51-48, with Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska being the only Republicans to vote no on the move that brought the Senate to Monday’s confirmation vote.

On Sunday, McConnell celebrated the fact that, moving forward, the Supreme Court appointment will be harder for Democrats to reckon with than any legislation or election.

"A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the next election,” McConnell, who has been Senate Majority Leader since 2015, said Sunday. He continued, “They won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come."

Questions of how a Biden administration could potentially seek balance on the court have surfaced in the late phase of the election. After years of Trump and McConnell stacking the judiciary to the right, some say serious reform is needed in the courts. Biden, who has faced questions about the possibility of “court-packing” (i.e., expanding the court by adding more justices to the bench), has said he wants to convene a commission to study possible reforms.

Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: What Can Democrats Do About the Supreme Court?

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