Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in to the nation’s highest court less than two hours after being confirmed by the Senate in a White House ceremony.
Barrett, who was confirmed by the Senate by a 52-48 vote, was sworn in by Justice Clarence Thomas at about 9 p.m. on the South Lawn of the White House.
“This is a momentous day for America, for the United States Constitution and for the fair and impartial rule of law,” Trump said in remarks before her swearing in.
“As president, I have no more solemn obligation and no greater honor than to appoint Supreme Court justices,” he added.
Trump highlighted Barrett’s experience, saying she has a “towering intellect” who will become the fifth woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.
“She is one of our nation’s most brilliant legal scholars,” Trump said.
He also thanked Senate leadership, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who brought her confirmation to a vote in the chamber prior to the November presidential election.
All Senate Republicans except for Susan Collins of Maine voted to confirm Barrett, who was tapped by President Trump to fill the seat left vacant after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September. Her confirmation will tip the balance of the court to a 6-3 conservative majority.
Her nomination touched off a storm of criticism by Democratic lawmakers, who accused Republicans of a double standard after they blocked a pick by President Obama in 2016 because it was an election year.
Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said in an impassioned speech prior to Barrett’s confirmation that Senate Republicans were guilty of a “partisan theft of two seats” and a “hypocritical double standard.”
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) added that Barrett’s nomination would usher in an unprecedented chapter of conservatism on the high court.
“Simply put, Judge Barrett as Justice Barrett, I am convinced, will open a new chapter of conservative judicial activism unlike anything we’ve seen,” Coons said.
McConnell, who blocked President Obama’s Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland from having a confirmation vote, said Barrett’s confirmation process was constitutional.
“The process comports entirely with the Constitution. We don’t have any doubt, do we, that if the shoe was on the other foot they’d be confirming,” he said.
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