The US Senate has confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in a victory for President Donald Trump a week before the general election.
Mr Trump’s fellow Republicans voted 52-48 to approve the judge, overcoming the unified opposition of Democrats.
The 48-year-old took the oath of office at the White House alongside President Trump.
Her appointment seals for the foreseeable future a 6-3 conservative majority on the top US judicial body.
Only one Republican, Senator Susan Collins, who faces a tough re-election battle in Maine, voted against the president’s nominee in Monday evening’s vote.
Judge Barrett is the third justice appointed by the Republican president, after Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
The federal appeals court judge from Indiana fills the vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon who died last month.
Democrats had argued for weeks that it should be up to the winner of the 3 November election to pick the nominee.
Shortly before the Senate vote, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, vowed his party would “not stop fighting”.
But although his colleagues took to the floor of the upper chamber to denounce the proceedings, they had no further options to block the confirmation.
Who is Amy Coney Barrett?
- Favoured by social conservatives due to record on issues like abortion and gay marriage
- A devout Catholic but says her faith does not influence her legal opinion
- An originalist, which means interpreting US Constitution as authors intended, not moving with the time
- Lives in Indiana, has seven children including two adopted from Haiti
But Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell stood by his party’s decision to forge ahead with the confirmation vote.
The Kentucky senator said: “We don’t have any doubt, do we, that if the shoe was on the other foot, they’d be confirming. You can’t win them all, and elections have consequences.”
What happened at the White House?
President Trump, just returned from campaigning in Pennsylvania, presided over Justice Barrett’s swearing-in ceremony at the White House later on Monday evening.
Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered one of the two oaths of office that justices take.
The event took place on the south lawn of the executive mansion, a month after a similar event to unveil Justice Barrett as the president’s nominee was linked to a Covid-19 outbreak that was followed by the president himself testing positive for the disease.
Justices usually take a separate judicial oath at the court itself a short ride away from the White House, but no details have yet been announced.
What cases are coming up for Justice Barrett?
Justice Barrett could cast a decisive vote in a number of looming cases, including a Trump-backed challenge to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
A previous ruling by Justice Barrett on Obamacare has alarmed advocates of the healthcare programme, while her past writings on abortion have triggered liberal warnings that the 1973 Supreme Court decision which legalised abortion nationwide could be overuled.
Also coming up on the top court’s docket are decisions on deadlines for accepting postal ballots in the critical presidential election states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Raising the stakes on Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a request to allow postal ballots received beyond election day in Wisconsin, another state through which the electoral road to the White House could lie.