Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed as the country’s next Supreme Court justice by a 52 to 48 vote margin in the United States Senate. Barrett was sworn in by Justice Clarence Thomas at the White House on Monday, Oct. 26—eight days before Election Day in the United States. This confirmation gives conservatives a 6-3 majority in the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died a little over a month ago on Sept. 18, and Senate Republicans pushed through the Supreme Court nominee in roughly five weeks. Ginsburg’s final wish was to not be replaced until a new president was in place. Republicans have been criticized by many Democrats for appointing a new Supreme Court Justice so close to Election Day; Republicans said that it was their right to appoint her, as they currently have the Senate majority. The only Republican senator that voted against Barrett’s confirmation was Susan Collins of Maine, who is up for reelection this November.
Judge Coney Barrett chose Justice Clarence Thomas to administer her oath. Justice Thomas has also previously been under controversy himself when he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1991 and was accused of sexual harassment by Brandeis University Law Professor Anita Hill.
The controversy of a confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice so close to an election goes back to when former President Barack Obama was in his final term and attempted to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia 237 days before the next presidential election. On March 16, 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to succeed Justice Scalia, who had died one month earlier. However, the Republican majority in the Senate refused to consider any nominee to the Supreme Court by Obama. Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said during a Judiciary Committee meeting, “I want you to use my words against me, if there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say ‘Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.’”
Senator Graham said to Judge Coney Barrett on the third day of her hearings, that he would “hope it’s okay you can be pro-life and adhere to your faith and still be considered by your fellow citizens to be worthy of this job.” Judge Coney Barrett is pro-life and Christian, which has caused upset amongst Democrats that she would not be an impartial judge and might vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to have abortions. Despite this, Coney Barrett said that Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 Supreme Court case that expanded rights to contraceptives, “was unlikely to go anywhere.”
During her hearings, Barrett also refused to comment on climate change and global warming. She said “I don’t think I am competent to opine on what causes global warming or not,” after being asked by D-Conn. Sen. Richard Blumenthal whether she believed that humans contribute to global warming.