By Derek Draplin | The Center Square
Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court justice at a White House ceremony Monday night after the Senate voted to confirm her nomination.
Justice Clarence Thomas, currently the court’s longest serving justice, administered the oath of office during the ceremony on South Lawn after President Donald Trump gave remarks.
“Tonight Justice Barrett becomes not only the fifth woman to serve on our nation’s highest court, but the very first mother of school-aged children to become a Supreme Court justice,” Trump said.
“The American people put their trust in you and their faith in you as you take up the task of defending our laws, our constitution, and this country that we all love,” he added.
After taking the oath, Barrett said that she pledges to “discharge my duties to the very best of my ability.”
“The oath that I have solemnly taken tonight means at its core that I will do my job without any fear or favor, and that I will do so independently of both the political branches and of my own preferences,” Barrett added.
Barrett will privately take the judicial oath on Tuesday before Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court said in a statement.
Barrett fills the vacancy of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September at the age of 87 from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer.
The Senate approved Barrett in a 52-48 vote Monday evening after a full day of final arguments in the upper chamber.
Barrett, who was a Notre Dame University law professor before becoming a judge for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, gives Republicans a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court. She also is the third judge selected to the court by President Trump, who also chose Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Throughout Barrett’s confirmation process, Democrats said the seat should go unfilled until after the Nov. 3 election, leveling the selection was otherwise illegitimate. They also accused Republicans of wanting to use the court to overturn the Affordable Care Act and gut Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion ruling.
Democrats also pointed to former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court leading up to the 2016 election as an example of Republicans’ hypocrisy. Garland was nominated in March 2016 after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, but he did not receive a hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Republicans vowed to fill the seat after Ginsburg’s death, maintaining that denying Garland a hearing in 2016 was within their role of “advise and consent,” noting the nomination came under a lame-duck president of an opposing party. They maintained they should fill the vacancy in 2020 given the nomination came from a president of the same party.
Republican and Democratic senators had one last chance to make their cases on the Senate floor Monday ahead of the final vote.
“Perhaps most important, [Barrett] is a woman of unquestionable character and integrity, the presence of which is essential to our nation, as the confidence of the court itself is in the balance,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said Monday morning.
“This rushed Supreme Court nomination not only ignores Americans’ demand for help at a time of maximum need, it is done in a way that will likely increase their suffering,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., referencing the COVID-19 pandemic and a potential Affordable Care Act ruling.