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Senate Set to Confirm Barrett 10/26 06:42

   A deeply torn Senate is set to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme 
Court, Republicans overpowering Democratic opposition and institutional norms 
to secure President Donald Trump's nominee the week before Election Day.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- A deeply torn Senate is set to confirm Amy Coney Barrett 
to the Supreme Court, Republicans overpowering Democratic opposition and 
institutional norms to secure President Donald Trump's nominee the week before 
Election Day.

   Barrett's confirmation Monday was hardly in doubt as Senate Republicans 
seized the opportunity to install a third Trump justice, securing a 
conservative court majority for the foreseeable future. With no real power to 
stop the vote, Democrats argued into the night Sunday that the winner of the 
Nov. 3 election should be the one to choose the nominee to fill the vacancy 
left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

   The 48-year-old appellate judge's rise opens up a potential new era of 
rulings on abortion, gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act. A case against 
the Obama-era health law is scheduled to be heard Nov. 10.

   Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scoffed at the "apocalyptic" warnings 
from critics that the judicial branch was becoming mired in partisan politics 
as he defended its transformation under his watch.

   "This is something to be really proud of and feel good about," the 
Republican leader said Sunday during a rare weekend session.

   McConnell said that unlike legislative actions that can be undone by new 
presidents or lawmakers, "they won't be able to do much about this for a long 
time to come."

   Vice President Mike Pence would typically preside over Monday's vote, but 
after a close aide and others on his staff tested positive for the coronavirus, 
it was unclear whether he would attend. He is scheduled to hold a campaign 
rally in Minnesota, arriving back in Washington ahead of the expected evening 
vote.

   Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the Trump 
administration's drive to install Barrett during the coronavirus crisis shows 
"the Republican Party is willing to ignore the pandemic in order to rush this 
nominee forward."

   To underscore the potential health risks, Schumer urged his colleagues not 
to linger in the chamber but "cast your votes quickly and from a safe 
distance." Some GOP senators tested positive for the coronavirus following a 
Rose Garden event with Trump to announce Barrett's nomination, but they have 
since said they have been cleared by their doctors from quarantine.

   The confirmation was expected to be the first of a Supreme Court nominee so 
close to a presidential election. It's also one of the first high court 
nominees in recent memory receiving no support from the minority party, a pivot 
from not long ago when a president's picks often won wide support.

   Barrett presented herself in public testimony before the Senate Judiciary 
Committee as a neutral arbiter and at one point suggested, "It's not the law of 
Amy." But her writings against abortion and a ruling on "Obamacare" show a 
deeply conservative thinker. She was expected to be seated quickly on the high 
court.

   "She's a conservative woman who embraces her faith. She's unabashedly 
pro-life but she's not going to apply 'the law of Amy' to all of us," the 
Judiciary Committee chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Fox News.

   At the start of Trump's presidency, 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. It was escalation of a rules change Democrats put in place to 
advance other court and administrative nominees under President Barack Obama.

   On Sunday, the Senate voted 51-48 vote to begin to bring the process to a 
vote by launching the final 30 hours of Senate debate. Two Republicans, Lisa 
Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, voted against advancing the 
nominee, and all Democrats who voted were opposed. California Sen. Kamala 
Harris, the vice presidential nominee, missed the vote while campaigning in 
Michigan.

   Monday's final tally was expected to grow by one after Murkowski announced 
her support for the nominee, even as she decried filling the seat in the midst 
of a heated race for the White House. Murkowski said Saturday she would vote 
against the procedural steps, but ultimately join GOP colleagues in confirming 
Barrett.

   "While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it 
against her," Murkowski said.

   Collins, who faces a tight reelection in Maine, remains the only Republican 
expected to vote against Trump's nominee. "My vote does not reflect any 
conclusion that I have reached about Judge Barrett's qualifications to serve," 
Collins said. "I do not think it is fair nor consistent to have a Senate 
confirmation vote prior to the election."

   By pushing for Barrett's ascension so close to the Nov. 3 election, Trump 
and his Republican allies are counting on a campaign boost, in much the way 
they believe McConnell's refusal to allow the Senate to consider Obama's 
nominee in February 2016 created excitement for Trump among conservatives and 
evangelical Christians eager for a Republican president to replace the late 
Justice Antonin Scalia.

   Barrett was a professor at Notre Dame Law School when she was tapped by 
Trump in 2017 for an appeals court opening. Two Democrats joined at that time 
to confirm her, but none is expected to vote for her now.

 
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