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Senate confirms Amy Coney Barrett to solidify conservative Supreme Court

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, arrives for closed meetings with senators, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate made good on President Donald Trump’s promise to fill the Supreme Court opening before Election Day by voting to confirm nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Monday.

The 48-year-old Barrett secures a conservative court majority for the foreseeable future, potentially opening a new era of rulings on abortion, gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act.

Barrett is the sixth justice on the nine-member court who was appointed by a Republican president, and the third of Trump’s term.

Barrett told those gathered that she learned through the “rigorous confirmation” that “it is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences.” She vowed, “I will do my job without any fear or favor.”

The vote finished 52-48, with Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine as the only senator to cross party lines to vote no.

Arizona’s senators had already announced which way they were voting before the nomination reached the full Senate floor just eight days before the election, each sticking with their parties.

In a video released last week, Republican Sen. Martha McSally called herself “a strong yes” and said Barrett was “an amazing jurist.”

A day before the vote, Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema issued a statement saying she was concerned about the nominee’s “inconsistent views on legal precedent, and how those inconsistencies impact her obligation to interpret and uphold the rule of law.”

It was exactly one month ago, Sept. 26, that Trump nominated Barrett to fill the seat vacated after the Sept. 18 death of liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“This is a momentous day for America,” Trump said at a primetime swearing-in event on the South Lawn at the White House.

The nomination was especially controversial because of how close it was to the election. In 2016, the GOP-controlled Senate refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland more than seven months before the election, maintaining that the next president, who turned out to be Trump, should have the right to fill the opening.

Democrats argued for weeks that the vote was being improperly rushed and then during an all-night session that it should be up to the winner of the Nov. 3 election to name the nominee. However, Barrett, a federal appeals court judge from Indiana, is expected to be seated swiftly and begin hearing cases.

Several pre-election matters are awaiting decision just a week before Election Day, and she could be a decisive vote in Republican appeals of court orders extending the deadline for absentee ballots in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

The justices also are weighing Trump’s emergency plea for the court to prevent the Manhattan District Attorney from acquiring his tax returns. And on Nov. 10, the court is expected to hear the Trump-backed challenge to the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.

Trump has said he wanted to swiftly install a ninth justice to resolve election disputes and is hopeful the justices will end the health law known as “Obamacare.”

During several days of public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barrett was careful not to disclose how she would rule on any such cases.

She presented herself as a neutral arbiter and suggested, “It’s not the law of Amy.” But her writings against abortion and a ruling on “Obamacare” show a deeply conservative thinker.

She was a professor at Notre Dame Law School when she was tapped by Trump in 2017 for an appeals court opening.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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