Supreme Court

How and when will the Senate vote on Amy Coney Barrett as SCOTUS candidate?

Donald Trump’s pick to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has finished her hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and looks likely to be confirmed.

How and when will the Senate vote on Amy Coney Barrett as SCOTUS candidate?
KEN CEDENO AFP

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has revealed that the Senate will hold a vote on Monday 26 October to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as the ninth Supreme Court Judge. Justice-to-be Barrett will replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died in September at the age of 87.

The vote is scheduled for Monday, reportedly to allow Republican Senators a chance to get back to campaigning in the final week before the Senate elections on 3 November. The Republican-held Upper House appears almost certain to return a vote in Barrett’s favour, making her confirmation the closest to a presidential election of any Justice in American history.

Two Republicans have so far come out in opposition to Barrett’s nomination but it would take another two Senators to cross the floor for the Democrats to have any chance of a majority. The GOP contingent comprises 53 of the 100-member chamber, with Vice President Mike Pence given the deciding vote in case of a tie.

Why is Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment controversial?

Speaking after the announcement of the vote, McConnell said that he sees the impending confirmation of Barrett as a big moment for the GOP: “I think that will be another signature accomplishment in our effort to put on the courts, the federal courts, men and women that believe in the quaint notion that maybe the job of a judge is to actually follow the law.”

President Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee in four years is perhaps the most conservative of his picks and brings a stark ideological change from Justice Ginsburg. Trump described her as “a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the constitution.”

Recent polling data suggests that her confirmation would be popular with the majority of Americans, but has drawn criticism from Democrats for her hard-line stance on constitutional issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

Aside from ideological differences the Democrats have criticised the timing of Barrett’s nomination: so close to the election and with the President currently trailing Joe Biden in the polls. With just 13 days to go before the election over 41 million Americans have already cast their votes, with voters eager to ensure that their voices are heard.

How will the Supreme Court nomination affect the presidential election?

Aside from the controversial timing of her nomination, the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett could have far-reaching political consequences for years to come.

In the short-term, any disputes to arise following the 2020 general election would likely end up in the Supreme Court. The confirmation of Barrett would give the Republicans a six-three split of the nine-person court and could help their cause if the outcome of the upcoming election is contentious.

"This is the most rushed, most partisan, least legitimate Supreme Court nomination process in our nation's history – in our nation's entire history – and it should not proceed," said Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader. Schumer appears determined to disrupt the confirmation of Barrett and announced on Wednesday that he is launching a legal challenge in the Senate.

Donald Trump has previously said that he believes that the election result could require a Supreme Court ruling to decide a victor and has repeatedly hinted at foul-play in the build-up to 3 November. The Supreme Court was last required to rule on a presidential election in 2000 when Democrat Al Gore demanded a recount following a narrow defeat in Florida. After 36 days the Supreme Court ruled against Gore and Republican George W Bush was sworn in as President.