US President Donald Trump reveled in one of his signature achievements on Monday at a White House ceremony to celebrate Senate confirmation of his third Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, eight days before the election.
The made-for-TV prime-time event on the White House lawn mirrored one a month ago, when Barrett’s nomination was announced, which preceded a coronavirus outbreak among top Republicans including Trump himself.
It came little more than an hour after the Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Barrett to the lifetime appointment on a 52-48 vote, with Democrats unified in opposition.
Her confirmation as the successor to liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month, creates a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court. One Republican, Susan Collins, voted against the confirmation.
Trump, who has been touting the appointment at campaign rallies to the cheers of his supporters, had pressed the Senate to confirm Barrett, 48, before the Nov. 3 election in which he trails Democrat Joe Biden in national opinion polls. No Supreme Court justice had ever been confirmed so close to a presidential election.
“The Barrett family has captured America’s heart. It is highly fitting that Justice Barrett fills the sea of a true pioneer for women, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Trump said with a smiling Barrett at his side.
In contrast to the White House event last month, more people wore masks and seats were spread out to ensure social distancing. Several of the Republican senators who voted to confirm Barrett were in attendance, although not Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has not been to the White House since August due to COVID-19 concerns.
Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, wearing his judicial black robes, administered one of the two oaths of office that justices have to take.