Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore
Somehow, improbably, Donald Trump has just scored the greatest political coup of his erratic presidency - certainly the one that will have the greatest long-term impact on Americans. How ironic it has happened just days before his possible - actually, probable - defeat in the presidential election of November 3rd. With the south facade of the White House draped in flags, a new Justice was sworn onto the Supreme Court. And not a mainstream judge who can help heal the political and cultural wounds. Amy Coney Barrett is a favourite of social conservatives and of those who want to ban abortion and reverse America's tilt towards liberal ideas.
It is likely that Judge Barrett will shift the court to the right for a generation - a devastating blow for progressives. It locks in a 6-3 conservative majority on the highest court in the land - and would be a major roadblock for a Biden Administration, if Democrats win next week. The Democratic leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, called it one of the chamber's darkest days in its 231-year history. Democrats are apoplectic, feeling a lifetime appointment of this significance should never be made in the final days of a presidency. The Senate approved the nomination by 52-48. It was a fiercely partisan manoeuvre that is deepening divisions as election day approaches.
It's all the more remarkable that Trump secured this achievement amid surging cases of coronavirus and a pandemic that most experts regard as having been woefully mishandled by the White House. Amid the national tragedy, on the eve of what is being described as a dark winter, the president has secured his legacy The president will later today be heading back onto the campaign trail. His path to victory is narrowing by the day. But he believes the White House ceremony for Justice Barrett will resonate with his supporters and boost his chances in these final days. And here is the key point: even if he loses, Trump will have sharpened America's culture wars for decades to come.
Watch Trump vs Biden: The Results on Tuesday 3rd November from 11pm on ITV