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Amid Democratic fury, Republicans push Barrett to the brink of confirmation

Struggles between supporters over the direction of federal courts have escalated rapidly in recent years, as Congress has stopped legislating regularly and both sides have increasingly turned to the courts to enforce their visions for the country.

But the Confirmation Wars appeared to be heading for a new bitter low on Monday. For the first time in recent memory, no member of the minority party, in this case the Democrats, was to vote for confirmation. Only one Democrat, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, supported Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh in 2018.

Democrats ideologically oppose Judge Barrett, but their opposition has little to do with the candidate herself. With more than 50 million votes already cast, Democrats have insisted the election winner should be allowed to take the seat. They accused Republicans of rank hypocrisy for rushing to fill him despite prior assurances from several senior Republicans that they would not do so if a post became vacant in an election year and despite Republicans’ insistence in 2016 so that voters have a say in who sits.

Ms Collins and Ms Murkowski, two moderates who have frequently resisted their party, shared the concerns, warning that filling the seat now will erode the legitimacy of the court and the Senate.

At 48, Judge Barrett would be the youngest judge on the bench, set to make his mark on the law for decades to come. A Chicago Court of Appeals judge and Notre Dame law professor, she has been presented as the heir to former Judge Antonin Scalia, a dominant figure in the court’s conservative wing for decades. Judge Barrett was commissioned for Judge Scalia and shares his strict judicial philosophy.

In her confirmation hearings this month, Judge Barrett repeatedly described herself as a true independent with “no agenda.” None of the parties in the Senate, however, appear to believe she will be anything more than a reliable Conservative vote based on her academic writings and court appeals rulings. If this holds true, Justice Barrett would be the ideological opposite of her predecessor, Justice Ginsburg, who was the leader of the now-diminished Liberal wing of the Court.

Democrats used this prospect to ignite their Liberal base ahead of election day. In addition to their concern over the fate of the Affordable Care Act, they spent weeks warning that Judge Barrett was going to cut or nullify abortion rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade.

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