Republican-controlled Senate hands President Trump a major pre-election political victory by confirming his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.

Deeply divided chamber votes 52 to 48, largely along party lines in the Republican-controlled Senate, on October 26, 2020.
Deeply divided chamber votes 52 to 48, largely along party lines in the Republican-controlled Senate, on October 26, 2020. (Reuters)

The US Senate has confirmed conservative jurist Amy Coney Barrett as the Supreme Court's newest justice, delivering a landmark and controversial win for President Donald Trump just eight days before the election.

The deeply divided chamber voted 52 to 48 on Monday, largely along party lines in the Republican-controlled Senate, making Barrett the third Trump nominee to reach the high court and cementing a six-to-three conservative majority.

Republican lawmakers broke into applause as the tally was read out, and the White House is also expected to celebrate the confirmation in the final run-up to the November 3 election, in which more than 60 million Americans have already voted.

The ceremony planned at the White House comes a month after a similar event was linked to a Covid-19 outbreak that preceded Trump's own infection. 

Barrett will succeed liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month.

At the ceremony, conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered one of the two oaths of office that justices have to take, according to a White House official.

Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the separate judicial oath at the court on Tuesday, the court said in a statement.

'A momentous day'

Trump hailed Barrett's confirmation as "a momentous day for America."

"This is a momentous day for America, for the United States Constitution and for the fair and impartial rule of law," the president, standing alongside Barrett, said before beaming lawmakers and others who had gathered on the South Lawn of the White House.

"I stand here tonight, truly honored and humbled," Barrett, a 48-year-old religious conservative, said shortly after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered the constitutional oath.

Barrett pledges no 'fear or favour'

Barrett pledged to carry out her duties as a Supreme Court justice "without any fear or favor" toward the other branches of government or her own beliefs. 

Barrett spoke after taking the first of two oaths that will allow her to officially join the high court.

Addressing an outdoor White House ceremony in her honor, Barrett said it's the job of a judge to "resist her policy preferences," claiming it would be a "dereliction of duty" to give in to them. 

Barrett pledged to do her job "independently of the political branches and of my own preferences."

Democrats slam nomination

Earlier, Senate Minority Chuck Schumer said the Republican majority was "lighting its credibility on fire" by proceeding with the vote so close to the election after blocking Democratic president Barack Obama's election-year nominee in 2016.

"The truth is this nomination is part of a decades-long effort to tilt the judiciary to the far right," he added.

Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended Barrett's nomination.

"We don't have any doubt, do we, that if the shoe was on the other foot, they'd be confirming," McConnell said. "You can't win them all, and elections have consequences."

The shifting of the Supreme Court and the broader federal judiciary to the right has been a signature achievement of Trump's presidency, aided by McConnell.

Improperly-rushed vote?

Democrats argued for weeks that the vote was being improperly rushed and insisted during an all-night Sunday session it should be up to the winner of the November 3 election to name the nominee. 

However, Barrett, a federal appeals court judge from Indiana, is expected to be seated swiftly, and begin hearing cases.

Speaking near midnight on Sunday, Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called the vote "illegitimate" and "the last gasp of a desperate party."

Obamacare case

Barrett is expected to participate in arguments on November 10 in a case in which Trump and Republican-led states are seeking to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. 

The 2010 healthcare law, also known as Obamacare, has helped millions of Americans obtain medical insurance and barred private insurers from denying medical coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Barrett has criticised previous rulings upholding Obamacare but said during her confirmation hearing she had no agenda to invalidate the measure.

During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee two weeks ago, Barrett, a favorite of Christian conservatives, irked Democrats by sidestepping questions on abortion, presidential powers, climate change, voting rights, Obamacare and other issues.

READ MORE: What to expect after the death of Justice Ginsburg?

Source: TRTWorld and agencies