It’s Tuesday, October 27, 2020. Election Day is one week away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.
Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed and sworn in as a Supreme Court justice on Monday, cementing the court’s conservative majority. Barrett, who will become the court’s youngest sitting member at age 48, is likely to help shift American jurisprudence rightward for a generation.
Barrett’s confirmation is a marquee victory for President Donald Trump, who has now added three justices to the Supreme Court, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has made judicial appointments his key priority in Congress. Together, the two men have ushered 200 judges onto the federal bench, changing the tilt of the Supreme Court and filling every vacancy on the circuit court level.
Unlike Trump’s previous nominees, who succeeded justices appointed by Republican presidents, Barrett’s confirmation represents a dramatic turn from the jurist who preceded her, the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barrett has promised to rule as an originalist in the mold of her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia. She is the fifth woman to join the Supreme Court in its 231-year history.
Barrett, an appeals court judge and Notre Dame law professor, was confirmed in a 52-48 vote. She did not receive a single Democratic vote, the first time since 1869 that a justice has been confirmed without any minority party support. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who is fighting an uphill battle for re-election, also voted “nay.”
The battle over Barrett’s confirmation included frequent invocations of former President Barack Obama’s attempts to replace Justice Scalia in 2016. McConnell refused to give Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing or vote, since the vacancy occurred nine months before a presidential election. Barrett was confirmed just one week before an election, after more than 60 million Americans had already cast their ballots.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) accused McConnell of hypocrisy, promising in a floor speech that Monday would “go down as one of the darkest days” in Senate history. McConnell maintained that the 2016 precedent did not apply because the White House and Senate were not then controlled by the same party, as they are now.
“What this administration and this Republican Senate has done is exercise the power that was given to us by the American people in a manner that is entirely within the rules of the Senate and the Constitution of the United States,” McConnell said.
Barrett’s presence on the Supreme Court could have immediate consequences. In the coming weeks, the court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in key cases regarding the adoption rights of same-sex couples (November 4), the legality of the Affordable Care Act (November 10), and the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census (November 30).
The court has also been called to rule on several election-related lawsuits ahead of the 2020 election, and may be required to mediate disputes after voting ends next week. Just as Barrett was being confirmed by the Senate, the Supreme Court voted 5-3 to strike down a court-ordered extension of the Wisconsin absentee ballot deadline. It was the latest voting case in which the justices had sided with Republicans, even before Barrett would strengthen the court’s conservative majority with her arrival.
Barrett’s potentially important role in litigating the 2020 election was underscored by the speed with which she was confirmed. The 31 days between her nomination and approval mark the quickest Supreme Court confirmation process since Sandra Day O’Connor in 1981.
The new justice was promptly sworn in Monday night, by Justice Clarence Thomas, at a ceremony on the White House lawn with about 200 attendees. (Her nomination was unveiled at a similar ceremony, which was later labeled a “superspreader event” after several attendees contracted coronavirus.)
After receiving the oath, Barrett promised to rule “without any fear or favor” and “independently of both the political branches and of my own preferences.”
“It is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences,” she continued. “It would be a dereliction of duty for her to give into them. A judge declares independence not only from Congress and the president, but also from the private beliefs that might otherwise move her.”
)Politico“[Their closing strategies represent] a jarring flip of the script for an incumbent president and his challenger eight days before Election Day. Trump, in the last gasp of his campaign, is barreling across the country, hoping large rallies and bets placed across the board will pay off for his underdog campaign. Biden is doing fewer and smaller events — and even peering past the election toward governing.” (Race for the White House:
- “The Two Americas Financing the Trump and Biden Campaigns” (New York Times)
- “Biden's lead over Trump is holding, while Clinton's was collapsing at this point” (CNN)
Race for the Senate: “President Trump privately told donors this past week that it will be ‘very tough’ for Republicans to keep control of the Senate in the upcoming election because some of the party’s senators are candidates he cannot support.” (Washington Post)
Race for the House: “House Democrats are increasingly bullish that they will flip multiple seats in districts where President Trump will win on election night, outrunning the top of the Democratic ticket and giving House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) a chance to expand her majority.” (Washington Post)
Youth vote: “Polling data and high levels of voter engagement indicate 2020 may bring out a wave of young voters, experts say.” (CNN)
Early vote tracker: As of 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, a record-breaking 64.7 million early votes have been cast, according to the U.S. Elections Project. The most votes have been cast in California (7.4 million), followed by Texas (7.39 million), and Florida (6 million).
- According to NBC News, the number of early votes could hit 100 million by Election Day — doubling the 50 million early votes cast in 2016.
All times Eastern.
President Donald Trump will hold campaign rallies in Lansing, Michigan (2 pm); West Salem, Wisconsin (5 pm); and Omaha, Nebraska (8:30 pm).
- Vice President Mike Pence will hold campaign rallies in Greensboro, North Carolina (12:30 pm); Greenville, South Carolina (3:30 pm); and Wilmington, North Carolina (6:30 pm).
- First Lady Melania Trump will hold her first campaign stop of the year, an event in Atglen, Pennsylvania (3 pm), with former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.
- Ivanka Trump will hold campaign events in Sarasota (1:30 pm) and Miami (5:30 pm), Florida.
- Donald Trump Jr. will hold campaign events in De Pere, Wisconsin (5 pm), and Cedar Rapids, Iowa (7:30 pm).
- Eric Trump will campaign in Nevada, holding an event in Reno (4 pm) and a “Latinos for Trump” event with MMA fighter Tito Ortiz in Las Vegas (10 pm).
- Lara Trump will campaign in Florida, holding events in Cocoa (12 pm) and Panama City Beach (3:30 pm) and an “Evangelicals for Trump” event in Pensacola (7 pm).
- Tiffany Trump will campaign in Charlotte, North Carolina, holding a “Breakfast with Tiffany” event (9 am) and a “MAGA Meet-Up” (10:45 am).
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will campaign in Georgia, delivering remarks on “bringing Americans together to address the crises facing our nation” in Warm Springs (1:30 pm) and holding a drive-in event in Atlanta (5 pm).
- Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will hold “voter mobilization events” in Reno (4:30 pm) and Las Vegas (8:30 pm), Nevada.
- Former President Barack Obama will hold an “early vote drive-in rally” in Orlando, Florida.
- Dr. Jill Biden will hold a “Get Out the Vote” rally in Bangor, Maine (3 pm), with the state’s Gov. Janet Mills and Senate candidate Sara Gideon.
All times Eastern.
The Senate will meet briefly at 11:30 am for a pro forma session.
The House will meet briefly at 10 am for a pro forma session.
The Supreme Court is not in session.
- Chief Justice John Roberts will administer a second oath to Justice Amy Coney Barrett in a private ceremony at the court building. (Justices are required to take two oaths before taking office: the Judicial Oath, which Barrett will take today, and the Constitutional Oath, which Justice Clarence Thomas administered to her on Monday.)
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