Political News

White House holds swearing-in ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett

Posted October 26, 2020 7:21 p.m. EDT
Updated October 26, 2020 8:44 p.m. EDT

White House holds swearing-in ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett

— Amy Coney Barrett is slated to be sworn in to the Supreme Court at a White House ceremony Monday evening, the White House announced shortly after her nomination was confirmed by the Senate.

Barrett will swear two oaths, a constitutional one expected Monday at the White House by Justice Clarence Thomas, according to a senior White House official, and the judicial oath on Tuesday by Chief Justice John Roberts.

The ceremony comes a week before Election Day and a month after a White House Rose Garden event to announce Barrett's nomination -- which has been labeled by public health experts as a coronavirus superspreader event.

At least a dozen people who were at the announcement in September confirmed they had contracted the coronavirus shortly after their attendance. But unlike the Rose Garden event, when many attendees went maskless and social distancing went largely unobserved, a White House official told CNN that the audience at Monday's swearing-in will be socially distanced and masks will be required.

Like at most events at the White House, the official said individuals near Trump will be tested for coronavirus beforehand. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also said that the swearing-in will be outdoors.

President Donald Trump, who contracted and recovered from the coronavirus in the weeks after the Barrett nomination announcement event, downplayed the size of Monday night's event. Asked whether the White House would be holding a large event at the White House for Barrett's swearing-in, Trump said: "No, not a large event. Just a nice event."

But Republican senators are split about whether they will attend.

Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, whose state has recently seen the highest transmission rate in the country, said he plans to go, and expects there will be adequate protective measures.

"It sounds like it's an outdoor event. I mean, that would certainly help that. Obviously, a lot more room, as well as the clean air, so I'm not, I'm not overly concerned. I'm certainly not concerned for myself. I'll do my part," Cramer said.

Others, such as Sen. Todd Young of Indiana, had planned to go but are wavering.

"I RSVP'd yes, but I'm reconsidering that," he said.

When asked if his hesitation had to do with Covid-19, Young demurred, saying it "had to do with a lot of factors."

Florida Sen. Rick Scott and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott were among those who said they were undecided.

Sens. Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Richard Shelby of Alabama plan to go home after the confirmation vote. North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will also not attend the event, citing other obligations.

It's not clear whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has criticized the White House's internal practices to prevent the spread of Covid-19, will attend.

And while the White House has maintained that the US is rounding the corner of the coronavirus pandemic, it's still spreading among key staffers. Over the weekend, at least five aides to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for Covid-19. Pence has flouted public health guidelines by continuing to campaign, but is taking precautions on the road.

Barrett's confirmation solidifies a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court -- a major victory for Republicans that is expected to have dramatic implications on decisions made by the high court for decades.

Barrett joins the court as the justices are ready to take action on a number of important petitions, including several related to next week's election.

Action on cases related to the President's taxes and abortion also await her in her first week on the bench.

This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.

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