Amy Coney Barrett confirmed as US Supreme Court justice

Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed as the newest member of the US Supreme Court by a deeply divided Senate on Monday, as Republicans overpowered Democrats to install President Donald Trump's nominee only days before the election.

Ms Barrett's confirmation will likely secure a conservative court majority for many years to come.

Mr Trump's choice to fill the vacancy of the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg potentially opens a new era of rulings on issues including abortion, the Affordable Care Act and even the president's own re-election bid.

Democrats were unable to stop the confirmation of Mr Trump's third justice on the court, as Republicans race to reshape the judiciary.

Ms Barrett is 48, and her lifetime appointment as the 115th justice will solidify the court's conservative tilt.

"This is a momentous day for America," Mr Trump said at a primetime swearing-in event on the South Lawn at the White House, where Justice Clarence Thomas administered the Constitutional Oath to Ms Barrett before a crowd of about 200 people.

Ms Barrett told those gathered she believes "it is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences", and vowed: "I will do my job without any fear or favour."

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Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to US Supreme Court
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Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to US Supreme Court
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: U.S. President Donald Trump stands with newly sworn in U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett during a ceremonial swearing-in event on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Senate confirmed Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court today by a vote of 52-48. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: President Donald Trump and newly sworn-in U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett look on during a ceremonial swearing-in on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Senate confirmed Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court today by a vote of 52-48. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: President Donald Trump and newly sworn-in U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett speak during a ceremonial swearing-in on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Senate confirmed Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court today by a vote of 52-48. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: Newly sworn in U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett and her husband Jesse Barrett look on during her ceremonial swearing-in on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Senate confirmed Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court today by a vote of 52-48. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett participates in a ceremonial swearing-in event as her husband Jesse Barrett looks on on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Senate confirmed Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court today by a vote of 52-48. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: Newly sworn-in U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett speaks as her husband Jesse Barrett and U.S. President Donald Trump listen during a ceremonial swearing-in on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Senate confirmed Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court today by a vote of 52-48. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: (L-R) First Lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, newly sworn-in U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett and her husband Jesse Barrett look on during a ceremonial swearing-in on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Senate confirmed Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court today by a vote of 52-48. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: (L-R) First Lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, newly sworn-in U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett and her husband Jesse Barrett look on during a ceremonial swearing-in on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Senate confirmed Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court today by a vote of 52-48. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: U.S. President Donald Trump (3R) watches as U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett (L) is sworn in by Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (R) as her husband Jesse Barrett (2L) holds a bible during a ceremonial swearing-in event on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Senate confirmed Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court today by a vote of 52-48. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
A Pro Life activist and a supporter of naming Judge Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court Justice, holds a sign in front of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC on October 26, 2020. - The deeply divided chamber voted 52 to 48, largely along party lines in the Republican-controlled Senate, making Barrett the third Trump nominee to reach the high court and cementing a six-to-three conservative majority. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP) (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)
Judge Amy Coney Barrett looks on before being sworn in as a US Supreme Court Associate Justice during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
A Pro Life activist and a supporter of naming Judge Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court Justice, looks from behind a sign in front of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC on October 26, 2020. - The deeply divided chamber voted 52 to 48, largely along party lines in the Republican-controlled Senate, making Barrett the third Trump nominee to reach the high court and cementing a six-to-three conservative majority. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP) (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)
Judge Amy Coney Barrett looks on before being sworn in as a US Supreme Court Associate Justice during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Pro Life supporters pray in front of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC on October 26, 2020 as members of the Senate were casting votes on the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as a US Supreme Court Associate Justice. - The deeply divided chamber voted 52 to 48, largely along party lines in the Republican-controlled Senate, making Barrett the third Trump nominee to reach the high court and cementing a six-to-three conservative majority. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP) (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett is sworn in by Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas during a ceremonial swearing-in event on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Senate confirmed Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court today by a vote of 52-48. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Judge Amy Coney Barrett followed by US President Donald Trump arrive for her swearing-in ceremony as an US Supreme Court Associate Justice on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
(L-R) US First Lady Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump, Amy Coney Barrett and her husband Jesse M. Barrett pose after judge Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as a US Supreme Court Associate Justice during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) speaks flanked by Judge Amy Coney Barrett before her swearing in a US Supreme Court Associate Justice during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Judge Amy Coney Barrett arrives for her swearing in as a US Supreme Court Associate Justice during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Judge Amy Coney Barrett followed by US President Donald Trump arrives for her swearing-in ceremony as an US Supreme Court Associate Justice on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: President Donald Trump stands next to Judge Amy Coney Barrett before her ceremonial swearing-in for the position of the U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Senate confirmed Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court today by a vote of 52-48.(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (C) speaks flanked by US Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (R) before the swearing in of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as an US Supreme Court Associate Justice during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and pro-choice supporters gather outside of the US Supreme Court as the Senate is expected to confirm President Trump's Supreme Court nominee on Capitol Hill on October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and pro-choice supporters gather outside of the US Supreme Court as the Senate is expected to confirm President Trump's Supreme Court nominee on Capitol Hill on October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leaves the Senate floor after the Senate voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. Judge Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to replace Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after her passing. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: People that both support and oppose the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court of the United States on October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. It is expected that the Senate will vote on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court later in the day. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Supporters of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and pro-choice supporters gather outside of the US Supreme Court as the Senate is expected to confirm President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Capitol Hill on October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
Protestors dressed in a costume inspired of "The Handmaid's Tale" talk with a supporter of Judge Amy Coney Barrett outside of the US Supreme Court as the Senate is expected to confirm President Trump's Supreme Court nominee on Capitol Hill on October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
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In its timing, Monday's vote was the closest high court confirmation ever to a presidential election, and the first in modern times with no support from the minority party.

The spiking Covid-19 crisis has hung over the proceedings. Vice President Mike Pence's office said on Monday he would not preside at the Senate session unless his tie-breaking vote was needed after Democrats asked him to stay away when his aides tested positive for the coronavirus.

The vote was 52-48, and Mr Pence's vote was not necessary.

"Voting to confirm this nominee should make every single senator proud," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, fending off "outlandish" criticism in a lengthy speech.

During a rare weekend session, Mr McConnell declared Ms Barrett's opponents "won't be able to do much about this for a long time to come".

Democrats argued for weeks that the vote was being improperly rushed and insisted during an all-night Sunday session it should be up to the winner of the November 3 election to name the nominee.

However, Ms Barrett, a federal appeals court judge from Indiana, is expected to be seated swiftly and begin hearing cases soon.

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Senate's Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (AP)

Speaking near midnight on Sunday, Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren called the vote "illegitimate" and "the last gasp of a desperate party".

Several matters are awaiting decision just a week before Election Day, and Ms Barrett could be a decisive vote in Republican appeals of orders extending the deadlines for absentee ballots in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

The justices are also weighing Mr Trump's emergency plea for the court to prevent the Manhattan District Attorney from acquiring his tax returns.

And on November 10 the court is expected to hear the Trump-backed challenge to the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.

Just before the Senate vote began, the court sided with Republicans in refusing to extend the deadline for absentee ballots in Wisconsin.

Mr Trump has said he wanted to swiftly install a ninth justice to resolve election disputes and is hopeful the justices will end the health law known as "Obamacare".

Supreme Court Barrett
Republican senators applaud as the vote concludes (AP)

During several days of public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms Barrett was careful not to disclose how she would rule on any such cases.

She presented herself as a neutral arbiter and suggested, "It's not the law of Amy". But her writings against abortion and a ruling on "Obamacare" show a deeply conservative thinker.

Republic senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, praised the mother of seven as a role model for conservative women, saying: "This is historic."

Republicans focused on her Catholic faith, criticising earlier Democratic questions about her beliefs. Mr Graham called Ms Barrett "unabashedly pro-life."

At the start of Mr Trump's presidency, Mr McConnell engineered a Senate rules change to allow confirmation by a majority of the 100 senators, rather than the 60-vote threshold traditionally needed to advance high court nominees over objections. That was an escalation of a rules change Democrats put in place to advance other court and administrative nominees under President Barack Obama.

Republicans are taking a political plunge by fast-tracking the confirmation just days from the November 3 election with the presidency and their Senate majority at stake.

Only one Republican — Senator Susan Collins, who is in a tight re-election fight in Maine — voted against the nominee, saying: "I do not think it is fair nor consistent to have a Senate confirmation vote prior to the election."

Mr Trump and his Republican allies had hoped for a campaign boost, in much the same way Mr Trump generated excitement among conservatives and evangelical Christians in 2016 over a court vacancy.

That year, Mr McConnell refused to allow the Senate to consider then-President Barack Obama's choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, arguing the new president should decide.

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