The Republican-controlled US Senate is poised to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, as the next justice to the Supreme Court on Monday, a move that will tilt the country’s highest court further to the right for years to come.
No nominee to the Supreme Court has ever been confirmed by the Senate this close to a presidential election.
The rush to confirm Barrett, 48, has bitterly divided Democrats and Republicans, who are expected to split along party lines on the final vote. Trump has said repeatedly he wants her in place to vote on any election-related cases that go to the court.
With Republicans controlling the chamber 53-47 and no indication of an internal revolt against the conservative appeals court judge succeeding liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Barrett looks almost certain to take up a lifetime appointment on the bench over universal Democratic opposition.
Several Republicans who previously expressed concerns about rushing the process, including Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, are expected to approve Barrett’s nomination.
With Barrett confirmed, the Supreme Court will have a solid 6-3 conservative majority.
The White House planned a Monday night celebration of the expected confirmation, a month after a similar event was linked to a Covid-19 outbreak that preceded President Donald Trump’s own infection.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters the event planned for Monday evening likely would be held outdoors. “Tonight, we’ll be doing the best we can to encourage as much social distancing as possible,” Meadows said.
Barrett is expected to participate in a crucial hearing on November 10, where Trump and his fellow Republicans will ask the court to strike down the Affordable Care Act. The 2010 healthcare law, popularly known as Obamacare, has helped millions of Americans obtain medical insurance and protected those with pre-existing conditions.
During her confirmation hearing before the Senate judiciary committee this month, Barrett, a favourite of Christian conservatives, sidestepped questions on abortion, presidential powers, climate change, voting rights, Obamacare and other issues.