Justice Amy Coney Barrett, as she will now be known, was confirmed by the Senate 52-48 on Monday evening, with a swearing-in shortly thereafter. A few congratulations are in order, as well as some thoughts about the future of the Supreme Court.
Senate Republicans held firm against the Democratic demagoguery that portrayed Judge Barrett as a sworn enemy of everyone with pre-existing health conditions. Judge Barrett helped by acing her hearings.
She spoke with conversational depth on the law, likening legal severability to a game of Jenga—pull out one unconstitutional piece and the entire law doesn’t have to fall. She was sympathetic toward litigants and said she wept with her adopted daughter after seeing the George Floyd video. She kept a poker face for 29 minutes as Senator Sheldon Whitehouse drew conspiratorial squiggles on a poster board.
Her poise and fluency explain why 51% of Americans, in a Gallup poll last week, said they want to see her ascend to the Supreme Court. By voting yes, Republicans stood by their principles and fulfilled their constitutional role, no matter the electoral implications. Chairman Lindsey Graham left the campaign trail to lead the Judiciary Committee hearings. Senators Cory Gardner and Martha McSally, who might lose on Nov. 3, didn’t flinch.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell deserves special credit for helping to reshape the federal courts after decades of liberal dominance. In addition to three associate Justices, the Senate in the last three-and-a-half years has confirmed 53 circuit judges, or about 30% of the appellate total, plus 162 district judges, per Mr. McConnell’s office. This legacy will last for a generation or more.