Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday night, as the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate ended a swift confirmation process one week before Election Day with a near party-line, 52-48 vote. The vote took place eight days before the presidential election.
Rubio and Scott indicated they would vote for Barrett days after President Donald Trump nominated her in September following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barrett’s nomination gives conservatives a 6-3 majority on the nation’s highest court ahead of oral arguments on a case that could overturn Obamacare, and potential litigation related to the outcome of next week’s election.
Rubio’s statement on the confirmation emphasized politics and partisanship: “Over the last few weeks, Judge Barrett has shown the American people that she is a well-qualified, highly respected nominee. Tonight’s vote ensures that the radical left will have to pursue their socialist agenda the way the founders intended: through the legislative process, not through an activist judiciary.”
“Today I was honored to take part in a historic moment and vote ‘aye’ to confirm our next U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice, Amy Coney Barrett,” Scott said in a tweet moments after the vote.
Scott and Rubio do not plan to attend Barrett’s swearing-in at the White House, which will be administered by Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas. An indoor and outdoor reception with Barrett’s family and Republican lawmakers last month became a coronavirus superspreader. Rubio and Scott had not attended the September event.
All 45 Senate Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats voted against Barrett’s nomination. One Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — who faces a serious election challenge — voted against Barrett’s nomination on the grounds that it was too close to the election.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against procedural motions to advance Barrett’s nomination because she objected to the confirmation timeline, but ultimately voted in favor of confirmation.
Some Democrats have argued that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden should try to add Supreme Court justices if elected. Republicans refused to vote on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, eight months before the 2016 election.
Biden hasn’t backed any proposals to add justices but said he wants to form a commission with legal scholars to study the issue and make policy recommendations.
Rubio has called for a constitutional amendment to limit the Supreme Court to nine justices.
Miami native Barbara Lagoa, a former Florida Supreme Court Judge and current federal appeals court judge, was also considered for the Supreme Court vacancy.
Rubio and Scott spoke with Trump to try to convince him to nominate a Floridian to the Supreme Court for the first time ever, but Barrett, a 48-year-old former law professor, was the favorite of many Republicans.