President Donald Trump reveled in one of his signature achievements on Monday at a White House ceremony to celebrate US Senate confirmation of his third Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, 6 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 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.
Barrett's confirmation shifts the Supreme Court further to the right, which could pave the way to conservative rulings curbing abortion rights, expanding gun rights and limiting voting rights, among other things.
Trump 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.
Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, wearing his judicial black robes, administered one of the two oaths of office that justices have to take.
In brief remarks, Barrett declared her independence from Trump and the political process even as the president stood behind her. "The oath that I have solemnly taken tonight means at its core I will do the job without fear or favor and do it independently of the political branches and of my own preferences," she said.
Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the separate judicial oath at the court later yesterday.
Trump's other Supreme Court appointees are conservatives Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Trump has said he expects the court to decide the outcome of the election and wants Barrett to participate on any election-related cases that go before the justices.
Just before the Senate vote, the court on a 5-3 vote with the conservative justices in the majority, issued an order curbing the deadline for mail-in ballots to be received in the electoral battleground of Wisconsin.