Amy Coney Barrett: Supreme Court judge sworn in as Donald Trump hails 'momentous day for America'

Nick Allen
·3-min read
Amy Coney Barrett takes the oath beside Donald Trump at the White House - AP
Amy Coney Barrett takes the oath beside Donald Trump at the White House - AP
US Election Article Bar
US Election Article Bar

Donald Trump hailed the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court as "a momentous day for America" with a week to go to the election.

Moments after the Senate voted to confirm her, she was sworn in at the White House. It brings the conservative majority on the nine-member court to 6-3, solidifying the ideological makeup of the court for years to come.

Ms Barrett's elevation to the court in place of the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg puts her in a position to rule on a host of issues including abortion, Obamacare, guns, and potentially the US election itself.

The swearing-in ceremony at the White House looked markedly different from one held earlier this month to announce Ms Barrett's nomination.

That became a "superspreader" event after numerous people contracted the coronavirus. This time chairs were socially distanced and many attendees wore masks.

Ms Barrett, 48, became the 115th justice in the court's 231-year history, and the third to be appointed in just four years by Mr Trump.

The president said: "This is a momentous day for America, for the United States Constitution and for the fair and impartial rule of law.

Anti-abortion activists celebrated outside the White House - GETTY IMAGES
Anti-abortion activists celebrated outside the White House - GETTY IMAGES

"I have no more solemn obligation and honour than to appoint a Supreme Court justice. She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials, and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution.”

Mr Trump said the justice had made clear she would interpret the Constitution "as written" and "not legislate from the bench”.

He told Ms Barrett: "The legacy of our ancestors falls to you. The American people put their trust in you, and their faith in you, as you take up the task of defending our law and our Constitution, and this country we all love. We ask God to give you wisdom and courage.”

During her Senate confirmation hearings Ms Barrett faced questions from Democrats over how her strong Catholic faith might affect her decisions.

Speaking at the White House, she said: "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.

Ms Barrett pledged to resist her "policy preferences" - AP
Ms Barrett pledged to resist her "policy preferences" - AP

"Federal judges do not stand for election. Thus, they have no basis for claiming their preferences reflect those of the people.

"This separation of duty from political preference is what makes the judiciary distinct in the three branches of the government.”

She said it was necessary for a justice to "declare independence from private beliefs that might otherwise move her”.

Ms Barrett said: "I will do my job without any fear or favour, and I will do so independently of both the political branches, and of my own preferences.”

Justice Clarence Thomas administered the Constitutional Oath to Barrett before a crowd of about 200 at the White House.

Earlier, she had been confirmed in the Senate by a vote of 52-48. All but one Republican senator – Susan Collins of Maine – voted for her.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, said: "Voting to confirm this nominee should make every single senator proud.”

He said Ms Barrett's opponents "won't be able to do much about this for a long time to come."

Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat senator, called the vote "illegitimate" and "the last gasp of a desperate party".