Senate Confirms Amy Coney Barrett As Newest Supreme Court Justice

October 27, 2020 by Tom Ramstack
Protesters outside the Supreme Court as the Senate met to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett. (Photo by Tom Ramstack)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court Monday evening, marking the first time in 151 years that a justice was confirmed without the support of a single member of the minority party.

Shortly afterward, President Donald Trump held a swearing-in ceremony for Barrett before a mostly masked, socially-distanced crowd on the South Lawn of the White House.

“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,” Trump told those assembled.

Justice Clarence Thomas administered the oath to Judge Barrett, who chose him for the occasion.

Political analysts called Barrett’s appointment the Trump administration’s greatest victory only a week before an election in which the president trails in opinion polls.

Democrats tried to slow down a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg until after the election. The Republican majority did not want to wait.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called Barrett’s nomination process a “cynical power grab” by Republicans.

Protesters outside the Supreme Court as the Senate met to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett. (Photo by Tom Ramstack)

He also said, “You will never, never get your credibility back.”

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said before the 52-to-48 vote for confirmation, “The Senate is doing the right thing.”

The vote split solidly along party lines. Barrett was sworn in about an hour later.

The same divided sentiment between Republicans and Democrats was found among the roughly 60 demonstrators who gathered outside the Supreme Court in the hours leading to the Senate confirmation vote.

Barrett’s supporters and critics tried to shout each other down in a cacophony of barely understandable slogans and insults. Others held up competing signs while mildly bumping shoulders.

The supporters included representatives from Young America’s Foundation, a conservative public policy group representing mostly college students. They passed out signs with Barrett’s photo and a slogan that said, “Confirm Amy.”

Like Barrett, Young America’s Foundation opposes abortion and the Affordable Care Act, the two issues that drew the sharpest divisions between Republicans and Democrats during Senate nomination hearings last week.

Spencer Brown, a spokesman for the Reston, Va.-based group, said he would not describe Barrett as a conservative.

“I perceive her as being an originalist,” he told The Well News.

Barrett described herself in the same way during the Senate hearings. She said she would uphold the Constitution and federal laws, regardless of her personal beliefs.

“She’s not going to rule based on the whims of what the local mob says,” Brown said.

Competing signs from Barrett’s detractors said, “Keep your laws off our bodies” and “Republicans are packing the court. Vote them out.”

Some female protesters wore red robes with white bonnets to evoke women from the television series based on Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. It is set in a totalitarian society ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state.

One of them was Katherine Johnson, a pipe welder from Raleigh, N.C., who threatened reprisal against senators who confirmed Barrett to the Supreme Court.

“Even if they get this win, it’s going to be short-lived for those senators,” Johnson told The Well News.

Barrett’s opponents soon would vote them out of office, she said. She also doubted Barrett’s pledge during Senate hearings to remain unbiased in her rulings.

“I don’t believe she can remain impartial while holding the views she has,” Johnson said.

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