As predicted, Judge Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed today by the U.S. Senate to become the 115th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The final vote of 52-48 also went according to forecasts. Only Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins broke with the rest of her party by voting “nay” on Barrett’s confirmation. All 45 Democrats plus the two Independents who caucus with the Democrats, Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders and Maine’s Sen. Angus S. King, Jr., voted against the nominee.
Barrett, accompanied by her husband, Jesse, was sworn in by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas in a Rose Garden ceremony on Monday evening. Thomas is currently the most senior justice on the court. Ironically, he was also confirmed by a similar 52-48 vote in 1991 after a contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearing chaired by then-Senator Joe Biden. Thomas has proven to be the court’s most faithful adherent to the judicial philosophy of originalism over the years, on par with and even surpassing Justice Antonin Scalia, who is perhaps best known for his articulation and advocacy of the doctrine both before and during his own time on the court.
Judge Barrett unapologetically defended the doctrine of originalism during her own confirmation hearings.
“In English that means that I interpret the Constitution as a law,” she said in response to a question from Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, “and that I interpret its text as text, and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. So that meaning doesn’t change over time and it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it.”
In introducing the judge, President Donald Trump said, “This is a momentous day for America, for the United States Constitution, and for the fair and impartial rule of law.”
In describing Barrett to the assembled Rose Garden guests, Trump noted, “She is one of our nation’s most brilliant legal scholars and she will make an outstanding justice on the highest court in our land.”
Trump also thanked Barrett’s husband, Jesse, and her children: “The Barrett family has captured America’s heart,” he said.
In her own remarks, Justice Barrett highlighted the difference between the legislative and judicial branches, “It is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences. It would be a dereliction of duty for her to give in to them.”
“I will do my job without any fear or favor,” she promised.
Barrett is not quite ready to take her seat on the high court following Monday’s swearing-in ceremony in the Rose Garden. Not well known is the fact that a justice of the Supreme Court takes two separate oaths: the “constitutional oath” required by Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, and the “judicial oath” required by the Judicial Improvements Act of 1990, found at 28 U.S. Code, section 453. Justice Barrett took the constitutional oath during the White House ceremony; Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the judicial oath to Barrett on Tuesday in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court.
An official statement from Focus on the Family’s President, Jim Daly, can be found here.
Photo from TOM BRENNER/REUTERS
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