With the affirmative votes of both of Alaska’s Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, Amy Coney Barrett has become the third Supreme Court Justice not only appointed by President Donald Trump, but confirmed.
She was confirmed by nearly a party-in vote, with only Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican, voting against her. As of Monday, the Senate has confirmed 220 Article III judges nominated by Trump, including three justices to the Supreme Court, 53 judges for the United States courts of appeals, 162 judges for the United States district courts, and two judges for the United States Court of International Trade
Over the course of her hearings, it became clear that Barrett was a good hill to die on for most Republicans, in spite of the political price that could be exacted in November. If they lose the presidency or the Senate, they will at least have tried to turn the court into a more centrist body.
Barrett was exceptional at every moment following her nomination, never flinching under grueling examination by the Democrats in the Senate. She never used notes — it was all in her head, and she was never caught flat-footed on any question thrown at her by her hostile opponents.
Barrett also sold the American public on her own nomination. At the beginning of the process, most Americans were against Trump appointing a Supreme Court Justice so late in his first term in office. But by the end of the process, more Americans were on board.
In a poll ending Oct. 15, some 51 percent of Americans approved of her nomination, according to Gallup. 84 percent of polled Democrats were against the Barrett nomination, the highest on record for Gallup, while 89 percent of Republicans favored her nomination.
On Sen. Sullivan’s Facebook posts about the nomination, the support for Barrett has been overwhelmingly positive. The Facebook poll at the Must Read Alaska page (also purely unscientific) showed 1,015 voters in favor of Barrett’s confirmation, and just 33 opposed to it.
In Alaska Senate candidate Alan Gross’ world, there would be no Justice Barrett. His leader Sen. Chuck Schumer would have blocked the nomination and he tried as hard as he could, through procedural methods and filibusters, to hold off confirmation process until after the election.
But Gross isn’t in the Senate, and even if both Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan had voted against Barrett, the Vice President would have arrived in the Senate to break the tie. There were enough votes, and he has a negative COVID-19 test.
And with that going in her favor, a constitutionalist has been seated on the Supreme Court.
“Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s judicial philosophy and methodology of judging stem directly from the school of legal analysis advanced by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Like Scalia, Barrett is a strict constructionist, a textualist, and an originalist,” wrote Royal Alexander, a Louisiana attorney. “Together, these terms mean that she will interpret the law in the strictest, most straightforward manner possible based upon the text itself — the plain, precise, literal meaning of the words (textualism), and the original meaning of the words (originalism) at the time the Framers drafted the document. Textualism is most often applied to the interpretation of statutes and originalism is most often applied to interpretation of the Constitution.”
Barrett is taking the place of a jurist who used her lifelong appointment to the bench as a political tool, legislating and trying to make policy, even on her deathbed. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reportedly told her family that her final wish was that she not be replaced until “a new president is installed.”
But since Ginsburg’s death on Sept. 18, the process to replace her went at lightning speed. Ginsburg’s body lay in state on Sept. 23. Trump nominated Barrett on Sept. 26. Barrett met with Senators from Sept. 29-Oct. 7.
Then, in spite of the fact that two members of the Judiciary Committee, Thom Tillis and Mike Lee, tested positive for COVID-19, Judiciary hearings began Oct. 12.
On Oct. 22, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate for a vote. The Democrats on the committee boycotted the vote.
On Oct. 26, just 38 days after Ginsburg’s death, Barrett was confirmed.
Justice Barrett is the first mother of school-aged children to become a Supreme Court justice and only the fifth woman ever to serve on the high court.
She is the only current justice to have earned a law degree from a school other than Harvard or Yale Universities. Barrett was at the top of her Notre Dame Law School graduating class.
The newest justice is also one of two who were born and raised in the South. The other is Justice Clarence Thomas, who swore Barrett in on Monday night. Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath of office on Tuesday.
Barrett joined Brett Kavanaugh, appointed in July, 2018, and Neil Gorsuch, appointed in February, 2017, as the three Supreme Court justices appointed by Trump during his four years in office.