- The US Senate on Sunday advanced the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, setting up a final confirmation vote Monday evening.
- The GOP defeated a Democratic filibuster by a 51-48 vote.
- If confirmed, Barrett would cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court.
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In a rare weekend session, the US Senate on Sunday advanced the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, setting up a final confirmation vote Monday evening.
Senate Republicans were able to defeat a Democratic filibuster by a 51-48 vote, with the only GOP defections to advance the nomination coming from Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Collins has stated that she will oppose Barrett’s final confirmation, not because of questions about her qualifications, but to adhere to not voting for Supreme Court nominees during election years. Murkowski, who is opposed to advancing a nominee so close to the election, will support Barrett in the final vote on Monday.
If confirmed to the bench, Barrett would replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a feminist icon who was a pillar of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing for 27 years.
The Senate Democratic caucus remained firmly unified in their opposition to Barrett throughout the entire process, criticizing the nomination timetable, Barrett’s omission of several key documents, and her reluctance to substantially weigh in on any policy issue during her hearings. The only member of the Democratic caucus who didn’t cast a vote was Sen. Kamala Harris of California, the party’s 2020 vice presidential nominee, who was campaigning in Michigan on Sunday.
Democrats are still upset that the Senate GOP blocked hearings in 2016 for then-President Barack Obama’s third high court nominee, Merrick Garland, after the death of Antonin Scalia. The seat went unfilled until President Donald Trump assumed office, which allowed him to install conservative jurist Neil Gorsuch to the bench.
Under rule changes instituted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in 2017, only a simple majority is need to break a filibuster for Supreme Court nominations.
—Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) October 25, 2020
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York encouraged his Democratic caucus to vote and quickly move off the Senate floor, as he questioned the safety measures that GOP members were taking with the new report of several staffers in Vice President Mike Pence’s office becoming infected with the coronavirus.
“While CDC guidelines would dictate contract tracing a quarantining be practiced, our colleagues and the Vice President have indicated that they do not intend to follow such protocols,” Schumer wrote in a statement.
“Their carelessness with the health and safety of their colleagues and Capitol employees mirrors their carelessness with the health and safety of Americans during this crisis,” the statement continued. “Therefore, considering the Republicans’ refusal follow CDC guidelines regarding quarantining and contact tracing, I would recommend that you not congregate in the Senate chamber today and that you cast your votes quickly and from a safe distance.”
If Barrett is confirmed, she would cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, which will hear a highly contentious case in November regarding a challenge to the Affordable Care Act.
Barrett’s confirmation hearings were centered largely on Democrats questioning her about past criticisms of the health care law, while Republicans largely praised her originalist judicial philosophy.
This story has been updated.