On Monday, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm ultra-conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett, nominated by President Donald Trump, to fill the vacancy left in the Supreme Court by the death of progressive Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. After an overnight session that lasted more than 30 hours, the Senate confirmed Barrett by a vote of 52 to 48, with only conservative Senator Susan Collins siding with the Democrats. During the vote, the Democrats left the chamber immediately after registering their vote, while the Republicans remained mostly seated until the end.
With this nomination, Trump would shift the balance of the court to more conservative positions and would make it his third nomination in his four-year term. His confirmation culminates the reshuffling of Trump and Mitch McConnell-the Senate majority leader-from the federal judiciary for the past four years; Barrett is the 220th federal judge nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senator, an achievement that will have repercussions long after the 2020 elections. Trump has appointed one-third of the court's nine judges: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Barrett.
With only eight days to go before the election, this appointment is seen by Trump and his supporters as a victory, achieving a conservative majority on the High Court for a generation.
This vote ends a 30-day intense race for the Senate nomination. Trump nominated Barrett, a 48-year-old ultra-conservative federal judge, to fill the vacancy left on the Court by the death of Judge Ginsburg, a liberal and progressive icon.
During the swearing-in ceremony at the White House, Barrett pledged to act "independently of the political branches and my own preferences," reiterating that she would put her personal beliefs aside at the hearings.
The Republicans saw in Barrett a brilliant and highly qualified jurist who would uphold the rule of law and adhere to the "originalist" judicial philosophy of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Conservatives see Barrett's confirmation as an "historic victory" for those opposed to abortion, because the judge is opposed to that right guaranteed in the US since 1973, although she has been reluctant to clarify whether she would vote to undermine it.
On the contrary, the Democrats, who have felt the powerlessness of having a minority in the Senate that would not allow them to stop the appointment, have criticised the confirmation process, calling it illegitimate and a flagrant abuse of power by McConnell. Democrats argue that placing Barrett on the High Court threatens millions of Americans' health care, abortion rights, gun control and other issues.
"Today ... will be one of the darkest days in the 231-year history of the United States Senate," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. "Let the record show that the American people, their lives, rights and freedoms will suffer the consequences of this nomination for a generation.
In 2016, when another death left a Supreme Court vacancy eight months before the election, the Republican majority in the Senate ignored the replacement chosen by then-President Barack Obama and did not even schedule a vote on it, arguing that it did not make sense to approve it in an election year.