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US PRESIDENT Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, was set to be confirmed today after Sunday’s Senate session agreed to bring the appointment, much criticised as being partisan, to a vote.
Attempts by the Democrats to block the appointment were frustrated when a filibuster motion was defeated by 51 votes to 48.
The Democrats argue that the winner of next week’s presidential election between Republican Mr Trump and their candidate, Joe Biden, who is leading in the polls, should choose the nominee.
The vacancy for the position arose after the death last month of liberal-leaning judge Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Democrats fear the appointment of another conservative to the Supreme Court: it would secure a conservative majority on the judicial panel for the foreseeable future, as appointment to it comes with a lifelong tenure.
Ms Barrett is known for her conservative views on issues such as abortion, equal marriage and healthcare. Progressives are alarmed because a case against the Obama-era health law is set to be heard on November 10.
If confirmed, as expected, she will have been appointed in one of the quickest proceedings in modern US history.
Democrat Senate leader Chuck Schumer said: “The Republican Party is willing to ignore the pandemic in order to rush this nominee forward.” He advised his colleagues to “cast your votes quickly and from a safe distance.”
Senator Tim Kaine said that Republican leaders would not wear masks to cover their noses and mouths and protect themselves and others from the coronavirus, but that the “soulless process” showed they were willing to “cover their eyes and their ears.”
Mr Biden remains ahead in the national polls and, more crucially, the so-called swing states going into the November 3 vote. But polling severely undercounted support for Mr Trump in the 2016 election, meaning victory for the Democrats is far from guaranteed.
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