Conservatives now hold a decisive edge on the Supreme Court after the Senate voted in a near party-line vote on Monday to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the highest court in the US.
Republican-nominated justices hold a 6-3 advantage on the Supreme Court, three of whom are appointees of President Donald Trump.
Trump hosted a swearing in ceremony at the White House nearly an hour after Monday's confirmation vote. Justice Clarence Thomas swore in Barrett.
The lone dissenting vote came from Republican Susan Collins of Maine, who is facing a tough re-election bid for her seat. Collins expressed concern of holding a confirmation vote just eight days before the US presidential election. Also, one-third of all US Senate seats are up in next week’s election.
"Today, Monday, October 26, 2020, will go down as one of the darkest days in the 231-year history of the United States Senate," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. "Let the record show that tonight the Republican Senate majority decided to thwart the will of the people and confirm a lifetime appointment to the supreme court in the middle of a presidential election after more than 60 million Americans have voted."
In 2016, Republican senators opted not to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court after the death of Antonin Scalia in February of that year.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended his caucus' vote amid election season.
"In another political age, Judge Amy Coney Barrett would be getting 70 votes or more in the US Senate because of her qualifications," McConnell said. "In a different era. Now, we know that's not going to happen. These are not the days when Justice Scalia was confirmed 98-0 and Justice Ginsburg was confirmed 96-3. And by the way, I voted for both Ginsburg and Breyer. Seems like a long time ago now."
In her swearing in ceremony, Barrett described the political battle during her confirmation.
"I have spent a good amount of time over the last month at the Senate, both in meetings with individual senators and in days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee," Barrett said. "The confirmation process has made ever clearer to me one of the fundamental differences between the federal judiciary and the United States Senate, and perhaps the most acute is the role of policy preferences."