Only one Republican — Sen. Susan Collins, who is in a tight reelection fight in Maine — voted against the nominee, not over any direct assessment of Barrett. Rather, Collins said, “I do not think it is fair nor consistent to have a Senate confirmation vote prior to the election.”
Trump and his Republican allies had hoped for a campaign boost, in much the way Trump generated excitement among conservatives and evangelical Christians in 2016 over a court vacancy. That year, 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.
Gardner in 2016 was among those Republicans who said that year’s election was too near for the Senate to weigh a replacement. This year, after Ginsburg’s death, he quickly said he would vote to confirm a qualified nominee.
Gardner defended his change in thinking as upholding the Senate’s advise and consent requirement.
“There’s no doubt that Judge Barrett’s qualifications are immense,” Gardner said on the Senate floor Monday. “Her qualifications as a member of our great American community, somebody with a beautiful family, it’s mind boggling.”
Bennet spoke out against Barrett’s confirmation in a floor speech of his own, saying he fears she will cast the deciding vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act.
“Judge Barrett’s confirmation will cement a 6-3 majority on the court that will allow the powerful to do what they want,” Bennet said.
Most Republicans facing tough races embraced the nominee to bolster their standing with conservatives. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said in a speech Monday that Barrett will “go down in history as one of the great justices.”
But it’s not clear the extraordinary effort to install the new justice over such opposition in a heated election year will pay political rewards to the GOP.
Demonstrations for and against the nominee have been more muted at the Capitol under coronavirus restrictions.
Democrats are unified against Barrett. While two Democratic senators voted to confirm Barrett in 2017 after Trump nominated the Notre Dame Law School professor to the appellate court, none voted to confirm her to the high court.
In a display of party priorities, California Sen. Kamala Harris, the vice presidential nominee, returned to Washington from the campaign trail to join colleagues with a no vote.
No other Supreme Court justice has been confirmed on a recorded vote with no support from the minority party in at least 150 years, according to information provided by the Senate Historical Office.
Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Andrew Taylor, Mark Sherman, Zeke Miller and Aamer Madhani in Washington and Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, Ca., contributed to this report.
Colorado Sun staff writer Jesse Paul contributed to this report.
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