Missouri's Republican senators voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court late Monday, helping cement a 6-3 conservative majority that could shape American law for decades.
Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri’s junior senator, hailed Barrett, 48, as a “truly historic” nominee who could upend the battle on abortion rights.
“This is the most openly pro-life judicial nominee to the Supreme Court in my lifetime,” Hawley said. “This is an individual who has been open in her criticism of that illegitimate decision, Roe v. Wade.”
Indeed, Barrett is a devout Catholic whose skepticism of broad protections for abortion rights has religious conservatives hoping she’ll help overturn the 1973 decision.
If that happens, it’s likely each state would make its own rules on the procedure, and those like Missouri would outlaw it entirely.
Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri’s senior senator, also lauded the new justice, describing her as someone who will “interpret and apply the law and the Constitution as they are written, not as she wishes they were written.”
Given that “originalist” approach, Barrett is expected to be a staunch defender of gun rights under the Second Amendment.
She could also be skeptical of past decisions on LGBTQ rights, including Obergefell v. Hodges, which allowed for same-sex marriage nationwide.
Barrett is also seen as a potential threat to the Affordable Care Act because she wrote an essay in 2017 saying Chief Justice John Roberts pushed it “beyond its plausible meaning” to save it eight years ago.
The act has since helped millions of people get health insurance by creating online marketplaces and paying more than 30 states to allow more people onto their Medicaid rolls, a group Missouri is set to join next year.
But challenges from conservatives have continued, and the court is set to hear another one with her on the bench next month.
Getting Barrett on the bench in time to hear that case may change the court in other ways, though.
The five-week sprint to replace liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election outraged Democrats who said the seat should be filled by the winner of the upcoming election.
Republicans made a similar argument when they blocked President Obama’s push to replace conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, but they said it's different now with the White House and the Senate controlled by the same party.
That Republican control could be coming to an end with next week's elections, though, and Democrats made clear their decision on Barrett could come back to haunt them.
“You may win this vote, but you will never, never get your credibility back. ” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. "And the next time the American people give Democrats a majority in this chamber, you will have forfeited the right to tell us how to run that majority."
Others were more explicit with their threats, noting that a Democratic Congress could Barrett's appointment by adding seats to the court and filling them with liberal justices.
"Republicans have been packing the Supreme Court for years," Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., wrote in a tweet. "It’s our job now to expand the court and return justice to the judiciary."