Oct 27, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate confirms Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court

Amy Coney Barrett looks to her right while wearing a black blazer and pearls

Judge Amy Coney Barrett before a meeting on Capitol Hill on Oct. 21. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 52-48 on Monday to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. She is expected to be sworn in within hours.

Why it matters: President Trump and Senate Republicans have succeeded in confirming a third conservative justice in just four years, tilting the balance of the Supreme Court firmly to the right for perhaps a generation.

  • The vote, which comes 38 days after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and just eight days before Election Day, capped off a confirmation process that Senate Democrats widely condemned as "illegitimate."
  • The transformation of the Supreme Court could be Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's defining legacy. It could also be the prelude to major court reforms if Democrats win the White House and Senate.

Worth noting: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the sole Republican to vote against Barrett's confirmation.

What to watch: Barrett could weigh in immediately on election-related cases piling up, including emergency petitions on extending deadlines for counting absentee ballots.

  • Moments before the vote began, the Supreme Court announced it had rejected Wisconsin Democrats' request to reinstate an extension of the deadline for counting absentee ballots to six days after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3.
  • Trump has previously said he wants nine justices on the Supreme Court in case it has to decide the results of the 2020 election.

The court is also scheduled to hear a case on LGBTQ rights and religious freedom on Nov. 4, followed by Nov. 10 arguments on the Affordable Care Act.

  • Democrats framed their opposition to Barrett largely around the ACA case, arguing that Trump wants her on the court to strike down President Obama's signature health care law and strip away pre-existing conditions protections for millions of Americans.
  • During her confirmation hearings, Barrett defended a past writing in which she criticized Chief Justice John Roberts' opinion upholding the ACA in 2012, insisting that she is "not hostile" toward the law or any other statute passed by Congress.

The other side: Joe Biden told "60 Minutes" this week that, if elected, he would put together a bipartisan commission to study the federal court system and make recommendations for reform — a response to pressure from progressives to expand the Supreme Court in retaliation for Barrett's confirmation.

  • The announcement came after Biden told an ABC town hall audience that he would come out with a clear position on court packing by Nov. 3, but that his answer would depend on how Barrett's confirmation is "handled."

Go deeper: How Amy Coney Barrett will make an immediate impact

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