Senate advances Amy Coney Barrett nomination, with confirmation expected Monday

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett, U.S. President Donald Trump’s Nominee for Supreme Court, gestures during a photo before a meeting with Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo) on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, U.S. October 21, 2020.
Anna Moneymaker | Reuters

Senate Republicans on Sunday advanced Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, clearing one of the final hurdles of the 48-year-old nominee’s confirmation process.

Barrett, a federal appeals court judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is expected to be confirmed by the Senate on Monday.

Sunday’s procedural vote divided 51-48 largely along party lines. Two Republicans, Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, sided with Democrats.

There was little doubt that Barrett would sail through the vote, and there is less that she will ultimately be confirmed. Murkowski has said that while she opposed the hurried nomination process, she supports Barrett’s nomination and will vote to confirm her.

If confirmed, Barrett will replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month after serving for 27 years on the bench and earning an unusual degree of celebrity as the senior member of the court’s liberal wing.

President Donald Trump has pressed for Barrett to be seated on the high court in time to resolve any litigation that arises as a result of the Nov. 3 election between him and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Barrett will give the top court a 6-3 majority of Republican-appointed justices, shifting the panel ideologically rightward on issues from gun control to abortion rights.

Before her nomination to the Supreme Court, Barrett clerked for the influential conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and worked as a professor at Notre Dame Law School. Trump nominated her to the 7th Circuit just over three years ago.

The approval of a Supreme Court nominee with a bare majority is a relatively recent phenomenon.

For decades, the Senate required 60 votes to advance judicial nominees. Democrats lowered the threshold in 2013 to a majority for nominees to courts except the Supreme Court.

In 2017, Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who was critical of the so-called “nuclear option” at the time, lowered the threshold to a majority for Supreme Court picks.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., decried Barrett’s advancement on Sunday, calling it a “travesty.”

McConnell touted the vote as an “important contribution to the future of this country.”

The Kentucky Republican said that many of the GOP’s achievements may be undone by the results of the 2020 election.

“They won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come,” he said.

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