US to get 9th justice with Dems powerless to block Barrett

WASHINGTON (AP) — A divided Senate is set to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, giving the country a ninth justice Monday as Republicans overpower Democratic opposition to secure President Donald Trump’s nominee the week before Election Day.

Democratic leaders asked Vice President Mike Pence to stay away from presiding over her Senate confirmation due to potential health risks after his aides tested positive for COVID-19.

But although Pence isn’t needed to break a tie, the vote would present a dramatic opportunity for him to preside over confirmation of Trump’s third Supreme Court justice.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and his leadership team wrote that not only would Pence’s presence violate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, “it would also be a violation of common decency and courtesy.”

But Senate Republicans control the chamber and Barrett’s confirmation isn’t in doubt.

The 48-year-old Barrett would secure a conservative court majority for the foreseeable future, potentially opening a new era of rulings on abortion, gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act.

A case against the Obama-era health law is scheduled to be heard Nov. 10.

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