The US Senate on Sunday advanced the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett towards final confirmation, just over a week before the presidential election.
In a procedural step, the Republican-controlled chamber voted 51-48 to wind down debate and clear the way for a final vote on Monday, despite Democratic opposition.
Barrett’s life-long appointment to the country’s top court is widely expected to be confirmed on Monday.
Only one Republican senator is expected to vote against Barrett’s confirmation, after she gained the backing of a second over the weekend who had opposed an appointment so close to an election.
US President Donald Trump picked the 48-year-old conservative judge to replace former justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the liberal icon who died last month.
Democrats have decried the move, accusing Republicans of rushing the process. They argue that the winner of the November 3 election should nominate a judge to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.
The centre-left party has made repeated unsuccessful attempts to delay the process over the past week.
The Senate has never considered a Supreme Court nominee so close to a presidential election. Nearly 59 million people have already voted early, according to data from the US Elections Project.
If Barrett is confirmed, there will be a 6-3 conservative majority, though the court’s rulings are not always along strict ideological lines.
Democrats have claimed Barrett would strip health-care protections and generally favour conservative positions on issues such as abortion and gun control.