Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the moderate Alaska Republican who had opposed voting on a new Supreme Court justice so close to the election, said Saturday she would vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
In a Senate floor speech, Murkowski lamented that the Senate was spending the weekend debating a judicial nominee rather than a coronavirus relief bill days before the election. But she said she wouldn’t hold her opposition to the process against Barrett, the 48-year-old conservative jurist, and would cast a vote based on the “merits of her qualifications.”
“I have no doubt about her intellect; I have no doubt about Judge Barrett’s judicial temperament,” Murkowski said. “I have no doubt about her capability to do the job and to do it well.”
The Senate held a rare weekend session to debate the nomination, President Trump’s third to the court. He tapped Barrett on Sept. 26 to fill the vacancy created by the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg eight days earlier.
The Senate is poised to vote on confirmation Monday.
Murkowski said she spoke privately to Barrett about issues such as Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion, and the Affordable Care Act. Murkowski has supported abortion rights and was one of three Republican votes to undercut GOP efforts to repeal the health-care law in 2017.
Murkowski didn’t reveal the specifics of her discussions with Barrett.
“I do not believe Judge Barrett will take her seat on the bench with a predetermined agenda,” said Murkowski, who faces reelection in 2022.
Murkowski’s support for Barrett leaves Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is in a tough reelection fight, as the lone Republican who plans to vote against Barrett’s nomination in protest over her party rushing it through so close to a presidential election.
Even if Murkowski had decided to vote no, Republicans still would have had enough votes to confirm Barrett, as it requires a simple majority. Republicans hold a 53-to-47 advantage.