On Sunday, the U.S. Senate voted to bring debate to an end and usher in a final vote on the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. This procedural vote represented the final hurdle before the full Senate vote, which will take place on Monday.
The Senate voted 51-48 to end debate on a largely party-line vote. The vote to confirm Barrett is expected to be 52-48. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was out campaigning on Sunday and was absent for the vote.
51-48: Senate mostly along party lines voted to end filibuster on Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court nomination & limited debate to 30hrs prior to final vote. GOP Senators Collins (ME) & Murkowski (AK) joined Democrats in voting No.Harris who is campaigning today in MI did not vote. pic.twitter.com/c119QkLIt7
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) October 25, 2020
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted against the procedural motion.
In a speech on the Senate floor on Saturday, Murkowski explained that she opposed rushing to confirm Barrett but will support the confirmation of the excellent Supreme Court nominee.
“In 2016, after the unfortunate death of Justice Scalia, I said that the Senate should not take up a nominee to fill that seat due to the impending presidential election. I reiterated that statement in August of this year, and then, coincidentally enough, just hours before the news of Justice Ginsburg’s passing that saddened the country,” Murkowski explained.
“I remain in the same place today. I do not believe that moving forward on a nominee just over a week removed from a pitched presidential election when partisan tensions are running about as high as they could, I don’t think that this will help our country become a better version of itself. But, frankly, I’ve lost that procedural fight,” she added.
“But at the end of the process is the substantive question of whether Judge Barrett should be categorically rejected as an associate justice in order to underscore my procedural objection,” Murkowski argued. She called for evaluating Barrett “on the merits of her qualifications.”
“I have no doubt about her intellect. I have no doubt about Judge Barrett’s judicial temperament. I have no doubt about her capability to do the job and do it well,” the senator explained. “I have concluded that she is the sort of person that we want on the Supreme Court.”
ICYMI: Watch my floor speech here on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to serve as the next Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. https://t.co/JRWZlEEJCx
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) October 24, 2020
Collins, who faces an extremely difficult reelection battle, is not expected to vote for Amy Coney Barrett. Murkowski, one of the more moderate Republicans, does not face reelection until 2022. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), another of the more moderate faction, has pledged to support Barrett.
Many have called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a hypocrite for rushing to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee in an election year after stopping the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. However, McConnell explained in 2016 that he opposed Garland because the majority of the Senate and the presidency represented two separate parties. This situation, with President Trump and a Republican-majority Senate, is different.
Amy Coney Barrett will almost certainly be confirmed on Monday, just over a week before the election.
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Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.