(Headline USA) Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett won crucial backing Saturday when one of the last Republican holdouts against filling the seat during an election season announced support for President Donald Trump’s pick ahead of a confirmation vote expected Monday.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, declared her support during a rare weekend Senate session as Republicans race to confirm Barrett before Election Day.
Senators are set Sunday to push ahead, despite rabid protests from boycotting Democrats who continue to insist that the winner of the White House on Nov. 3 should make the choice to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month.
Murkowksi has publicly opposed proceeding with the confirmation before the election.
She said she doesn’t believe moving forward a week before “a pitched presidential election—when partisan tensions are running about as high as they could—I don’t think this will help our country become a better version of itself.”
But she added, ”I’ve lost that procedural fight.”
Based on Barrett’s qualifications rather than political considerations, she said she will vote against the procedural steps in the days ahead, but ultimately join Republicans in confirming Barrett
“While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her,” Murkowski said.
Barrett’s nomination already appeared to have enough votes for confirmation from Senate Republicans who hold the majority in the chamber. With a 53-47 GOP majority, Barrett’s confirmation is almost certain.
But Murkowski’s nod gives the frequently centrist NeverTrump Republican a boost of support among party loyals.
Only one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, is now expected to vote against the conservative judge.
Collins cast the deciding vote in favor of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s 2018 confirmation (with Murkowski casting the only dissenting vote) amid specious, uncorroborated race accusations.
But that drew the ire of dark-money Democrats, who immediately pledged to oust Collins and have continued to target her in an effort to retake the Senate.
Maine’s recently passed referendum allowing voters to rank choices also plays against the incumbent Collins, raising the possibility that any of the five leftist candidates or the one conservative opponent could poach votes from her and secure a victory for Democrats.
While the unexpected court opening caused many on the Right to rejoice, it made Collins’ prospects even more precarious.
Calling Barrett’s nomination a “sham,” Democrats mounted procedural hurdles to slow it down.
But the minority party has no realistic chance of stopping Barrett’s confirmation, which is set to lock a 6-3 conservative court majority for years to come.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., noted the political rancor, but defended his handling of the process.
“Our recent debates have been heated, but curiously talk of Judge Barrett’s actual credentials or qualifications are hardly featured,” McConnell said. He called her one of the most “impressive” nominees for public office “in a generation.”
Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York warned Republicans the only way to remove the “stain” of their action would be to “withdraw the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett until after the election.”
Democrats made several unsuccessful attempts to force the Senate to set aside the judicial fight Saturday and instead consider coronavirus relief legislation, including the House-passed Heroes Act that would pump money into insolvent leftist cities, as well as greenlighting a raft of suspicious election-related measures that had nothing to do with the pandemic.
Majority Republicans turned aside those efforts and kept Barrett’s confirmation on track.
Despite boasting impeccable conservative credentials, Barrett, 48, presented herself in public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee as a neutral arbiter of cases on abortion, the Affordable Care Act and presidential power—issues soon confronting the court. At one point she suggested, “It’s not the law of Amy.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, acknowledged the partisan nature of the proceedings, but said he could not live with himself if the Senate failed to confirm someone he said was such an exceptional nominee.
Graham, R-S.C., called Barrett a “role model” for conservative women and for people strongly held religious beliefs.
Barrett was a professor at Notre Dame Law School when she was tapped by Trump in 2017 for an appeals court opening. Two Democrats joined at that time to confirm her, but no Democrats were expected to vote for her in the days ahead.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press