The US Senate has confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in a victory for President Donald Trump a week before the general election. Following the confirmation, the 48-year-old Judge has also taken the oath of office at the White House alongside Mr Trump.
Mr Trump’s fellow Republicans voted 52-48 to approve the judge, overcoming a unified opposition of Democrats.
Her appointment seals for the foreseeable future a 6-3 conservative majority on the top US judicial body.
Only one Republican, Senator Susan Collins, voted against the president’s nominee. President 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 a potential dispute over his own election.
Democrats were unable to stop the outcome of the vote as Republicans race to reshape the judiciary.
Mr Trump speaking after the oath of office had been taken said, “This is a momentous day for America, for the United States constitution and for the fair and impartial rule of law.”
“She is one of our nation’s most brilliant legal scholars and she will make an outstanding justice on the highest court in our land,” he added.
Justice Barrett also said afterwards, “A judge declares independence not only from the Congress and the president, but also from the private beliefs that might otherwise move her.
“The judicial oath captures the essence of the judicial duty: the rule of law must always control.”
The vote is 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 also hung over the proceedings.
Vice President Mike Pence’s office said 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.
Just over an hour later, on the South Lawn of the White House, Barrett took the oath in front of Justice Clarence Thomas, as Trump watched on. After the ceremony, the president and Barrett appeared on the White House balcony with Trump applauding his choice, his third following conservatives Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Chief Justice, John Roberts will administer the separate judicial oath at the court later on Tuesday (27th October), the court said in a statement.
Democrats argued for weeks that the vote was being improperly rushed and insisted during an all-night session it should be up to the winner of the November 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.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, called the vote “illegitimate” and “the last gasp of a desperate party”.
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”.
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