By a 52 to 48 vote margin, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed as the next Supreme Court Justice. She was sworn in by Justice Clarence Thomas on October 26, eight days before the general election. This is President Donald Trump’s third appointment to the court within his first term, making up one-third of the Supreme Court.
Justice Barrett’s nomination and approval process was brisk, with her hearings beginning less than a month after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. Justice Barrett was first nominated on September 26, and confirmed to the court within 30 days. Her nomination has caused significant outcry of hypocrisy among Democrats, since Republican Senator Lindsey Graham even went so far as to previously state, “I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.”
The court now has a 6-3 conservative majority, which raises concerns about judicial rulings that could conflict with public opinion. This appointment also comes at a critical time, with cases on the longevity of the Affordable Care Act, President Trump’s policies, a Mississippi abortion challenge, potential election cases and many more coming to the court in the next few weeks.
The strongest Republican advocate for Judge Barrett’s appointment was Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, a key opponent of Obama’s 2016 judicial nomination. He stated, “At the risk of tooting my own horn, look at the majority leaders since L.B.J. and find another one who was able to do something as consequential as this.” Senator McConnell has been successful in appointing three Supreme Court Justices, 53 appeal court judges, and many district judges who all fall under the conservative wing.
The current public outcry over the most partisan Supreme Court in modern history could cause the Republicans to lose their Senate majority in next week’s general election. With many questioning the legitimacy of an unelected court, this appointment could pave the way for the court’s reformation or “packing the court” with more judges in the near future to avoid the predicted partisanship.