After echoing a litany of liberal partisan objections for why she opposed seating a new U.S. Supreme Court justice weeks before a presidential election, Sen. Lisa Murkowski begrudgingly voted to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the nation’s highest court on Oct. 26. The final vote was 52-48 with Sen. Dan Sullivan also backing Barrett.
Murkowski was the center of national speculation ever since the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last month. At first, Murkowski said she strongly opposed seating a Supreme Court justice until after the presidential election. She argued that because the Republican-controlled Senate refused to confirm President Obama’s nominee before the 2016 election, they should also refuse to seat President Trump’s pick in 2020.
This was the standard talking point of Senate Democrats throughout Barrett’s confirmation hearings. Scores of liberal activist groups made this argument. Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups went so far as to assert that Republicans were stealing Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court.
In reality Republicans operated in strict conformity with the U.S. Constitution and the rules of the U.S. Senate. They were within their constitutional rights both to deny Obama’s appointee four years ago as well as to confirm Barrett.
Murkowski, who enjoys the support of Planned Parenthood and other liberal groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America, played coy for weeks as national news outlets speculated about how she might vote. Meanwhile, conservative organizations like Heritage Action applied political pressure as did a number of local organizations in Alaska.
Barrett’s opponents found it nearly impossible to attack her reputation or stellar qualifications, but Senate Democrats voiced concern that the conservative Catholic mom with seven children might rule against their side when it comes to issues like Obamacare, abortion, LGBT laws and a host of other liberal favorites. With Barrett’s confirmation the high court now enjoys a 6-3 conservative majority.
The day before casting her vote to confirm Barrett, Murkowski took to the Senate floor where she gave a 12-minute justification for what many – on both the left and right – viewed as political waffling.
“My record has been pretty clear, pretty consistent,” she claimed. “Some might even suggest boring in its consistency.”
She then claimed that her recent actions in the Senate to repeatedly oppose motions granting Barrett a hearing are not inconsistent with her ultimate vote to confirm her.
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Murkowski added that the confirmation of Barrett does not “help our country become a better version of itself,” but then asserted that she was being consistent by choosing to vote for a judicial nominee when the question finally came before the entire body of the Senate for an up or down vote.
“While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her (Barrett) as an individual who has navigated the gauntlet with grace, skill and humility,” she concluded.
Murkowski will face reelection in 2022.