WASHINGTON -- The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed federal Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court Tuesday to succeed retiring Justice Byron White.
In a 96-3 vote, with all three nay votes coming from Republicans, Ginsburg, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, became the second woman to be confirmed to the high court. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan.
Ginsburg, 60, was nominated by President Bill Clinton in June after a lengthy search. She will become the first justice named by a Democrat in more than 25 years when assuming her position at the start of the court's next term in October.
In a rare procedure, the senators took their seats and rose upon being called to cast their ballot.
The three Republicans voting no were senators Jesse Helms of North Carolina, Don Nickles of Oklahoma and Bob Smith of New Hampshire.
Senator Donald Riegle, Democratof Michigan, was absent from the vote.
At a joint appearance with Clinton in the White House Rose Garden, Ginsburg said she was 'glad' she was confirmed and then asked if there were any questions, remarking 'the last time I was here I don't think there was an opportunity for any questions.'
That was a reference to her original appearance in the Rose Garden on the day of her nomination when Clinton abruptly cut off the press after one question he thought was inappropriate.
Asked what type of justice she would make, Ginsburg said, 'I think you must reserve judgment. I will do the very best I can...and you can review my performance in a year or so.'
Clinton said he was pleased at the confirmation and was 'gratified that Republicans and Democrats were able to work together to turn this landmark legislation into reality.'
Ginsburg's confirmation hearings were marked by a collegial atmosphere that was notably absent from the emotional and hostile theater surrounding the hearings of Clarence Thomas, who was alleged to have harassed his assistant, Anita Hill.
The confirmation hearings of Ginsburg, regarded as a centrist, lasted less than a week, during which few if any fireworks were apparent from the committee, which had changed its complexion since the Thomas hearings.
The most notable area of concern from all sides was Ginsburg's reading of the Constitution as it affected legalized abortion. The federal judge, who was named to the bench by former President Jimmy Carter, said she did not share the conventional view that abortion is protected under privacy rights.
Rather, she argued that the right to abortion was grounded in the equal rights protections of the 14th amendment, a legal view that won her respect.
Ginsburg, a Harvard Law School student who went on to graduate tied for first in her class from Columbia Law School. Afterward, Ginsburg clerked for a New York federal judge, and in 1963, she became a professor at Rutgers Law School.