The U.S. Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday, capping a rush to have her seated by Election Day and culminating a decades-long effort by conservatives to reshape the nation’s highest court from a left-leaning body to one that is more reliably right of center.
The Senate confirmed Barrett by a vote of 52-48, with Republicans comprising all the “yes” votes and Democrats joining one GOP senator (Maine’s Susan Collins) in voting no.
Barrett will replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was a hero of the Left and passed away Sept. 18. at the age of 87.
Barrett’s confirmation means President Trump has now named three justices to the Supreme Court – the most by one president in a single term since President Nixon, who placed four justices on the court during his first term in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (President Reagan nominated three justices during a two-term span in the 1980s.)
Trump, during a White House ceremony, called it a “momentous occasion.” Barrett took her constitutional oath during the ceremony from Justice Clarence Thomas.
“She is one of the nation’s most brilliant legal scholars, and she will make an outstanding justice,” Trump said.
Barrett previously served as a judge on the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and as a law professor at Notre Dame. She acknowledged during her confirmation hearings she is personally pro-life, although she said Monday it “is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences.”
She is the fifth woman on the high court and the first mother of school-age children.
“My fellow Americans, even though we judges don't face elections, we still work for you,” she said. “It is your Constitution that establishes the rule of law and the judicial independence that is so central to it.”
Legal experts say it could be the most conservative Supreme Court in 90 years, since the 1930s. Just 15 years ago, the court was generally moderate/liberal, particularly on social issues. The court’s ideology began to shift in 2006 when President George W. Bush replaced Sandra Day O’Connor – a swing vote and a supporter of Roe v. Wade – with Samuel Alito. President Trump in 2018 replaced another swing vote and pro-Roe justice, Anthony Kennedy, with Brett Kavanaugh. Barrett, who is expected to join the court’s conservative bloc, will replace the liberal Ginsburg. (John Roberts, who was nominated by Bush, and Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated by Trump, replaced conservatives and thus did not alter the ideological balance.)
Republican presidents now have nominated six of the court’s nine justices. Five of those have been placed on the court since 2005.
Earlier this month, Mike Berry of First Liberty Institute wrote that Trump’s nomination of Barrett had the potential to launch “a conservative resurgence on the high court.”
“Judge Barrett rejects the ‘living Constitution’ interpretive methodology of jurisprudence. Rather, she is an admitted originalist,” Berry wrote. “... Because of this, Judge Barrett is likely to move the Court reliably to the conservative side for the first time in decades.”
First Liberty said this month that the last time “there was a reliable conservative majority” on the high court was 1934.
Despite the court’s apparently solid conservative bloc, it is not known if it would overturn Roe or even take up such a case.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who voted for confirmation, said Monday Barrett “understands the importance of an independent Supreme Court – one that does not act as a ‘super-legislature’ – but instead interprets the Constitution and applies the law as written.”
“While Judge Barrett may not march in lockstep with the Left’s narrow definition of womanhood, she has withstood the bigoted attacks on her faith and family with grace and respect,” Ernst said. “I am truly grateful to Judge Barrett, and her beautiful family, for her willingness to serve on the Court. Amy Coney Barrett has proven to young women across the world that a mom really can do anything – like serve as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who also supported the nomination, chastised Democrats and the Left for saying they support diversity while at the same time opposing a female nominee because she might be conservative.
“They feel as if a woman who is pro-life, pro-family, pro-religion, pro-business – that kind of woman in their eyes does not deserve a seat at the table,” Blackburn said.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff
Video courtesy: ©The White House
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.