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Clarence Thomas will swear in Amy Coney Barrett at the White House with 'large' guest list

After Amy Coney Barrett's almost assured confirmation Monday evening, Justice Clarence Thomas is on the docket to swear in the 7th Circuit appellate judge to the Supreme Court at a White House ceremony.

'Justice Clarence Thomas will administer the official Constitutional Oath to Judge Amy Coney Barrett at the White House tonight,' a senior White House official told The New York Times.

The vote on Barrett's nomination is set to take place some around 7:26 p.m. Monday evening, according to Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, and the White House is prepared to hold a 'large' celebration in the Rose Garden honoring the momentous occasion just one week before Election Day.

Although a source told Politico that the guest list for the South Lawn event is on the longer side, Trump suggested the event is smaller than it was being made out in the media. 

As an overweight 72-year-old, Thomas is at a higher risk of dying or having severe adverse symptoms if he were to contract coronavirus.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sought to assure reporters Monday that the Rose Garden ceremony would include safety precautions, but he did not say whether face coverings would be required.

'We're doing tonight the best we can to encourage as much social distancing as possible,' he said.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, 72, will swear in Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in a White House ceremony as soon as she is confirmed in the Senate vote Monday evening

The plans have set off alarm bells as it sounds eerily similar to the Rose Garden event last month when Trump announced Barrett's nomination, inviting a whole crowd of aides, advisers, lawmakers and supporters to witness the occasion.

That event sparked a White House outbreak of COVID-19, which infected the president, first lady Melania and their son Barron, as well as about a dozen others within Trump's inner circle. 

As the vote isn't expected until later Monday, one White House official suggested that the celebration and swearing in might be pushed to Tuesday. 

Pence announced earlier Monday that he is ditching his plans to attend the Senate vote confirming Barrett after Democrats demanded he steer clear of the Capitol as five of his aides tested positive for coronavirus.

'Vice President Pence is campaigning in Minnesota today. The VP is not planning to be at the Senate tonight unless his vote is needed,' an aide to the vice president said.

The White House, however, is still looking to hold a Rose Garden celebration with a ceremonial swearing in of Barrett either Monday or Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters on the tarmac at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Pennsylvania on Monday, President Donald Trump assured the celebration would be a rather small, 'very nice event.' 

Despite the vice president's absence, the vote is still expected to move easily through the Senate as Republicans have enough votes to confirm Barrett without Pence needing to break a tie.

Pence's Chief of Staff Marc Short, 'body man' Zach Bauer, Advisor Marty Obst and two other aides tested positive for COVID-19. The vice president and second lady Karen Pence both tested negative on Sunday.

Democrats pleaded Sunday that Pence not to come to the Capitol to fulfil his largely ceremonial role, as is customary for vice presidents in landmark votes, claiming in a letter 'it's not a risk worth taking.'

Vice President Mike Pence will not go to the Capitol for the Senate vote on Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation Monday evening after Democrats pleaded he steer clear after five of his aides tested positive for COVID-19

With little Democrats can do to stop the confirmation from going forward, the White House has already started planning its celebration – similar to the 'superspreader' event announcing Barrett's nomination at the end of September, which sparked a COVID-19 outbreak at the White House.

This event caused President Donald Trump, first lady Melania and their son Barron, along with a slew of aides, advisers and GOP lawmakers, to contract the virus.

The next event, which is not yet set in stone, would be held outdoors in the Rose Garden Monday night and include a ceremonial swearing in of Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Senior administration officials told ABC News that the details are not finalized and that celebration could be moved to Tuesday. They also say it is unclear who would do the 'swearing in' at the White House event.

Not only could the event spark another superspreader to attendees, but Pence's potential presence at the Capitol Monday could spread the virus to several at-risk members of Congress.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and his leadership team wrote in a letter that Pence showing up for the vote go against Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and 'be a violation of common decency and courtesy.'

'Nothing about your presence in the Senate tomorrow can be considered essential,' the Democrats wrote.

Of the 100 senators, 69 are 60-years or older and medical professionals say those in that age range are at a much larger risk of dying if they contract COVID-19.

Pence's Chief of Staff Marc Short tested positive for coronavirus, it was announced over the weekend, and the vice president regularly has close contact with his top aide. Four other aides to Pence also tested positive for coronavirus.

Pence and second lady Karen Pence both tested negative on Saturday.

As Pence traveled over the weekend to continue campaigning for he and Trump's reelection, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows argued that he is an essential worker and therefore entitled to travel.

Pence is holding a campaign rally in Minnesota Monday, but will arrive back in Washington D.C. ahead of the expected evening vote. 

The White House is planning a Rose Garden celebration of her confirmation, similar to the 'superspreader' event announcing Barrett's nomination last month that sparked a White House coronavirus outbreak – infecting the president, first lady and their son, as well as several top aides and lawmakers

The vice president's presence is not needed in the Senate for a tie-breaking vote Monday, as Republicans already have the votes needed to easily get Barrett's nomination through.

Following the vote Monday evening, the Senate will recess until after the election.

On Sunday, the Senate held a procedural vote to advance Barrett's nomination and kicked off 30 hours of debate, which will clear the way for a vote Monday evening.

The 51-48 vote was largely along party lines, with two Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, voting with Democrats. Democratic Senator Kamala Harris was not present to cast a vote as she was campaigning in Michigan on Sunday.

'This is something to be really proud of and feel good about,' Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said during a rare weekend session.

McConnell lauded that Democrats 'won't be able to do much about this for a long time to come', in contrast to legislative actions, which can be undone with new executive or legislative terms.

Barrett, a 48-year-old appellate judge for the 7th circuit, is a staunch Roman Catholic and life-long conservative. Her personal pro-life views have raised eyebrows among progressives who claim she will dismantle a woman's right to an abortion by working to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Her lifetime appointment to the highest U.S. court will also drastically change the makeup of the Supreme Court for a generation to come. 

The mother of seven – five biological and two adopted from Haiti – has embraced her classification as the 'female Antonin Scalia' and says his jurisprudential practice of 'applying the law as written' will be how she serves. 

The Republican-majority Senate is expected to easily confirm Barrett without needing Pence's tie-breaking vote 

During the three days of confirmation hearings earlier this month, including a day of opening statements and two days of questioning, Barrett reiterated her stance as a textualist and originalist, stressing this means she would apply the Constitution to cases as it's written and was intended by the drafters.

In the short term, Barrett could help decide election and voting-related issues as the vote on her confirmation comes just over a week before Election Day.

Donald Trump has made it clear he feels the results of the election could end up at the Supreme Court – and with a conservative majority of 6-3 with Barrett seated, it's more likely they would rule in favor of the president.

Also about a week after the election the Supreme Court will take up a case on the Affordable Care Act, which Democrats fear will be overturned if Barrett has anything to say about it.

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