ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – The US Senate voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to America's top court Monday evening, cementing a solid 6-3 conservative Supreme Court majority.
The 52-48 vote saw just one Republican break ranks with the party, Susan Collins of Maine, as she joined all Democrats and Independents in opposing the election-year nominee.
Barrett's confirmation marks US President Donald Trump's third successful top court pick during his first term in office following Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, a fact facilitated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's stonewalling of former President Barack Obama's nominee in 2016.
Democrats staunchly opposed Barrett's nomination after McConnell that year refused to give Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland a hearing under the pretense that it would be improper to do so before Americans chose their next president. McConnell abandoned the rationale after late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September, less than two months before Election Day.
Trump has now appointed one-third of the Supreme Court's nine justices.
Some Democrats have floated the idea of what is known as packing the court, or expanding the number of judges who sit on the body.
That figure is established by Congress, which has set the number at nine for over 150 years. The idea of "packing" the top court, or adding additional justices, has been balked at by both parties when they lead the federal legislature for fear of retribution when control shifts.
But it has gained traction among some within the Democratic Party following Barrett's nomination.
Shortly after Barrett was confirmed, progressive heir-apparent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a message in support of the move, saying simply, "Expand the court."
"Republicans do this because they don’t believe Dems have the stones to play hardball like they do. And for a long time they’ve been correct," she said. "But do not let them bully the public into thinking their bulldozing is normal but a response isn’t. There is a legal process for expansion."
While saying he is "not a fan" of the idea, Democratic nominee Joe Biden has not ruled out support for packing the court if he wins the Nov. 3 election, saying he will form a bipartisan committee to recommend changes to the top court.
Barrett is expected to attend a formal swearing-in ceremony Monday night at the White House.