Senate Republicans have voted overwhelmingly to advance Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett towards final confirmation despite Democratic objections, just over a week before the presidential election.
Her confirmation on Monday was hardly in doubt, with the majority Republicans mostly united in support behind President Donald Trump’s pick.
The final vote was 51 to 48 in favour.
Democrats have been poised to keep the Senate in session into the night in attempts to stall, arguing the November 3 election winner should choose the nominee to fill the vacancy left by the late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Republicans are excited by the chance to install a third Trump justice on the court, locking in a conservative majority for years to come.
Ms Barrett’s ascent opens up a potential 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 November 10.
Vice-President Mike Pence would typically preside over the coming votes but after a close aide tested positive for the Covid-19 it is unclear whether he will fulfil his role for the landmark vote.
The conservative judge picked up crucial backing on Saturday from Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the last GOP holdouts against filling the seat in the midst of a White House election and with more than 50 million people already having voted.
Ms Murkowski said she disliked the rush towards confirmation but supported Mr Trump’s choice of Ms Barrett for the high court.
“While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her,” she said.
Now the only Republican expected to vote against the 48-year-old judge is Susan Collins, who faces a tight re-election in Maine.
She has said she will not vote for the nominee so close to the election.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell noted the political rancour but defended his handling of the process.
“Our recent debates have been heated but curiously talk of Judge Barrett’s actual credentials or qualifications are hardly featured,” McConnell said.
He said she was one of the most “impressive” nominees for public office “in a generation”.
Calling it a “sham”, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, warned Republicans the only way to remove the “stain” of their action would be to “withdraw the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett until after the election”.