Judge Amy Coney Barrett has been confirmed to the Supreme Court by the US Senate in a victory for President Donald Trump aweek before the presidential election.
President Trump’s fellow Republicans voted 52-48 to approve Judge Barrett, overcoming the unified opposition of Democrats.
Justice Barrett’s appointment seals for the foreseeable future a 6-3 conservative majority on the top US judicial body.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called the move rushed and unprecedented.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said that by going ahead with the vote so close to the election the Republican majority was “lighting its credibility on fire”.
Democrats fear Judge Barrett’s confirmation to the lifelong post will favor Republicans in politically sensitive cases that reach America’s top court for potentially decades to come.
Amy Coney Barrett, 48, took the oath of office at the White House alongside President Trump.
Only one Republican, Senator Susan Collins, who faces a tough re-election battle in Maine, voted against the president’s nominee in October 26 vote.
Amy Coney Barrett is the third appointed by President Donald Trump, 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.
Supreme Court justices take two oaths before beginning their job – the constitutional oath and the judicial oath.
President Trump, just returned from campaigning in Pennsylvania, presided over Justice Barrett’s constitutional oath ceremony on October 26.
He said: “This is a momentous day for America, for the United States constitution and for the fair and impartial rule of law.”
The president added: “She is one of our nation’s most brilliant legal scholars and she will make an outstanding justice on the highest court in our land.”
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative, administered the oath of office to his new colleague.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett said afterwards: “A judge declares independence not only from the Congress and the president, but also from the private beliefs that might otherwise move her.
“The judicial oath captures the essence of the judicial duty: the rule of law must always control.”
She took the judicial oath in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court on October 27.
The White House ceremony took place on the south lawn of the executive mansion. It came a month after a similar event to unveil Amy Coney 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.
At 48, Amy Coney Barrett becomes the Supreme Court’s youngest justice.