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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.

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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.

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Amy Coney Barrett, a long-term academic, appeals court judge and mother of seven was the hot favorite for the Supreme Court seat.

Donald Trump – who as sitting president gets to select nominees – reportedly once said he was “saving her” for this moment: when elderly Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and a vacancy on the nine-member court arose.

It took President Trump just over a week to fast-track the 48-year-old conservative intellectual into the wings. This is his chance to tip the court make-up even further to the right ahead of the presidential election, when he could lose power.

Amy Coney Barrett’s record on gun rights and immigration cases imply she would be as reliable a vote on the right of the court, as the Notorious RBG was on the left, according to Jonathan Turley, a professor of law at George Washington University.

Judge Barrett’s vote, alongside a conservative majority, could make the difference for decades ahead, especially on divisive issues such as abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act (the Obama-era health insurance provider).

Her legal opinions and remarks on abortion and gay marriage have made her popular with the religious right, but earned vehement opposition from liberals.

However, as a devout Catholic, Amy Coney Barrett has repeatedly insisted her faith does not compromise her work.

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Amy Coney Barrett lives in South Bend, Indiana, with her husband, Jesse, a former federal prosecutor who is now with a private firm. The couple have seven children, including two adopted from Haiti. She is the oldest of seven children herself.

Known for her sharp intellect, Amy Coney Barrett studied at the University of Notre Dame’s Law School, graduating first in her class, and was a clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, who, in her words, was the “staunchest conservative” on the SCOTUS at the time.

Like her mentor Scalia, Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, which is a belief that judges should attempt to interpret the words of the Constitution as the authors intended when they were written.

Many liberals oppose that strict approach, saying there must be scope for moving with the times.

Amy Coney Barrett has spent much of her career as a professor at her alma mater, Notre Dame, where she was voted professor of the year multiple times.

She was selected by President Trump to serve as a federal appeals court judge in 2017, sitting on the Seventh Circuit, based in Chicago. She regularly commutes to the court from her home – more than an hour and half away.

Amy Coney Barett’s confirmation hearing for the appeals court seat featured a now-infamous encounter with Senator Dianne Feinstein, who voiced concerns about how her faith could affect her thinking on the law. Defiant Catholics adopted the phrase as a tongue-in-cheek slogan on mugs.

Judge Barrett has defended herself on multiple occasions.

“I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge,” she once said.

LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign has voiced strong opposition to Barrett’s confirmation, declaring her ”an absolute threat to LGBTQ rights”.

The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization, declined comment on Judge Barrett specifically, but said appointing any new conservative Supreme Court justice would “be devastating for sexual and reproductive health and rights”.

To secure the position on the Supreme Court – a lifelong job – Amy Coney Barrett will still have to pass a grueling confirmation hearing, where Democratic senators are likely to take a tough line, bringing up many of their voters’ concerns.

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Amy Coney Barrett, a favorite of social conservatives, is President Donald Trump’s pick for the new Supreme Court justice.

Speaking by her side at the White House Rose Garden, President Trump described her as a “woman of unparalleled achievement”.

If confirmed by senators, Judge Barrett will replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died last week at the age of 87.

Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination will spark a bitter confirmation fight in the Senate as November’s presidential election looms.

Announcing Judge Barrett as his nominee on September 26, President Trump described Amy Coney Barrett as a “stellar scholar and judge” with “unyielding loyalty to the constitution”.

However, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden urged the Senate not to “act on this vacancy until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress”.

He said: “The United States Constitution was designed to give the voters one chance to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court. That moment is now and their voice should be heard.”

If Judge Barrett is confirmed, conservative-leaning justices will hold a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future.

She would be the third justice appointed by the current Republican president, after Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

The court’s nine justices serve lifetime appointments, and their rulings can shape public policy on everything from gun and voting rights to abortion and campaign finance for decades

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In recent years, the Supreme Court has expanded gay marriage to all 50 states, allowed for President Trump’s travel ban on mainly Muslim countries to be put in place, and delayed the US plan to cut carbon emissions.

After graduating from Notre Dame University Law School in Indiana, Amy Coney Barrett, 48, clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. In 2017, she was nominated by President Trump to the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Amy Coney Barrett is described as a devout Catholic who, according to a 2013 magazine article, said that “life begins at conception”. This makes her a favorite among religious conservatives keen to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

LGBT groups have criticized her membership of a conservative Catholic group, People of Praise, whose network of schools have guidelines stating a belief that sexual relations should only happen between heterosexual married couples.

Judge Barrett has ruled in favor of President Trump’s hard-line immigration policies and expressed views in favor of expansive gun rights.

Conservatives hope Judge Barrett will rule against the Affordable Care Act – a health insurance scheme introduced by President Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

Some 20 million Americans could lose their health coverage if the court overturns the legislation, also known as Obamacare.

Following September 26 announcement, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer warned fellow senators that voting to confirm Judge Barrett could spell the end of Obamacare.

He said: “A vote by any senator for Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for millions of Americans.”

On September 26, Judge Barrett said her rulings as a Supreme Court justice would be based only on the law.

“Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy view they might hold,” she added.

The White House has begun contacting Republican Senate offices to schedule meetings with the nominee, sources told CBS.

Hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee – the panel tasked with vetting nominees – are scheduled to begin on October 12, and will last three to four days, committee chairman Lindsey Graham told Fox News late on September 26.

Afterwards committee members will vote on whether to send the nomination to the full Senate. If they do, all 100 senators will vote to confirm or reject her.

Republicans hold a slim majority of 53 senators, but they already seem to have the 51 votes needed to get Judge Barrett confirmed.


Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg was discharged from the hospital following cancer surgery and is recuperating at home, a court spokeswoman has announced.

The 85-year-old had surgery to remove two cancerous nodules from her left lung in New York on December 21.

The Notorious RBG, who is the most senior justice on the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, has previously had surgery to treat colon cancer and pancreatic cancer.

Supreme Court judges serve for life or until they retire.

Supporters of Ruth Bader Ginsburg have expressed concern that if anything happened to her, she could be replaced by a conservative justice.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in a statement: “Justice Ginsburg was discharged from the hospital yesterday [December 25] and is recuperating at home.”

According to an earlier statement released by the court, the malignant nodules were initially discovered when Ruth Bader Ginsburg broke three ribs in November.

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Both were successfully removed at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and afterwards “there was no evidence of any remaining disease”, it added.

No further treatment is planned.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton.

She had previously focused her work on women’s rights and started the first law journal dedicated to the topic.

Some of her legal opinions, coupled with her refusal to step down during the Obama era, have seen her gain popularity in some quarters.

High-profile Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon has been cleared by Supreme Court for violating a 1977 amnesty law with his investigation of Franco-era crimes.

Baltasar Garzon had been accused by two right-wing groups of overstepping his powers by trying to prosecute crimes committed between 1936 and 1975.

He said crimes against humanity should not be subject to an amnesty.

Earlier this month, Baltasar Garzon was suspended from the bench for 11 years after being found guilty of illegal phone tapping.

Baltasar Garzon, 56, has vowed to fight that conviction. He faces a third trial, brought by private parties, which involves allegations that he took bribes.

The judge is best known worldwide for helping to secure the arrest of the former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998.

But he is a controversial figure who divides opinion in Spain, say observers.

High-profile Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon has been cleared by Supreme Court for violating a 1977 amnesty law with his investigation of Franco-era crimes

High-profile Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon has been cleared by Supreme Court for violating a 1977 amnesty law with his investigation of Franco-era crimes

Baltasar Garzon’s supporters on the left view him as a champion of human rights and justice, but his detractors believe he is a politically-motivated publicity-seeker.

Seven Supreme Court judges cleared Baltasar Garzon on the basis that his investigations into Franco-era crimes were defensible in legal terms.

But although it is a significant decision in a significant case, Baltasar Garzon’s suspension from the bar in the earlier case means he will not be able to continue with the investigation.

Baltasar Garzon decided in 2008 to investigate the disappearance of tens of thousands of people during the civil war and the subsequent dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, including ordering the excavation of mass graves.

The move provoked fierce criticism and anger from those on the right who argued that the point of the 1977 amnesty was to allow Spain to forget the alleged crimes of that era, and move on.

Two groups – Clean Hands, and Liberty and Identity – who brought the case against him said they did so because Baltasar Garzon had “reopened wounds which we Spaniards – whatever our political beliefs – had totally recovered from”.

But some of Baltasar Garzon’s greatest supporters during his court hearing have been the relatives of those who disappeared, who had pinned their hopes for justice on his investigations.