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Clarence Thomas set to swear in Barrett at White House

Justice Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasGorsuch, Thomas join liberal justices in siding with criminal defendant Supreme Court narrows cybercrime law Overnight Energy: Biden doubling FEMA funds for extreme weather preparations | Supreme Court backs Guam's bid to get payments from US for hazardous dumping| Interior Department says it has returned to Obama-era enforcement of offshore drilling waiver rule MORE will swear in Judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettGorsuch, Thomas join liberal justices in siding with criminal defendant Schumer faces cracks in Democratic unity Courts drowning in backlog pose lingering immigration challenge MORE as an associate justice on the Supreme Court on Monday evening following her expected confirmation by the Senate.

“Justice Clarence Thomas will administer the official Constitutional Oath to Judge Amy Coney Barrett at the White House tonight,” a senior White House official said.

The White House is planning to host the swearing-in ceremony on Monday evening for President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE’s nominee, though the details have not been officially announced. The GOP-controlled Senate will vote on Barrett’s nomination Monday evening and is widely expected to confirm her as the 115th justice on the nation’s highest court.

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The event would also take place just more than a week before Election Day. Trump and the GOP have seen the Barrett confirmation as something that could drive conservative support for the president, though Democrats believe it also amps up their own voters.

Such events are typical; the White House previously hosted swearing-in ceremonies for Justices Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchGorsuch, Thomas join liberal justices in siding with criminal defendant Supreme Court justice denies Colorado churches' challenge to lockdown authority Democrats: Roe v. Wade blow would fuel expanding Supreme Court MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGorsuch, Thomas join liberal justices in siding with criminal defendant Alyssa Milano says she could 'potentially run' for House in 2024 Overnight Defense: Supreme Court declines to hear suit challenging male-only draft | Drone refuels Navy fighter jet for the first time | NATO chief meets with Austin, Biden MORE. The coronavirus pandemic, however, has spurred questions about the safety of such gatherings if health guidelines are not followed.

The senior White House official said that the audience will be seated and socially distanced, and that face coverings would be required for everyone in attendance. All those in close proximity to Trump will be tested ahead of time, the official said. 

The face-mask requirement represents a departure from past practice. 

Several cases were tied to the Rose Garden ceremony during which Trump announced Barrett as his nominee in late September, where attendees were seen interacting closely together without wearing masks. Trump himself was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early October.

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White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsBiden's no-drama White House chief Ex-Trump aide Meadows pushed DOJ to probe multiple election theories: report Trump working with Gingrich on policy agenda: report MORE told reporters Monday morning that the White House would encourage social distancing at the event and hold it outdoors.

"The very first event, while there’s a whole lot of connections that have been made with who was at the event and who came down with it, we’ve been able to look at that and track as many as three different areas where the virus actually infected different people within the White House," Meadows said. "So, it didn’t all come from that particular event."

“We’re tonight doing the best we can to encourage as much social distancing as possible. It will be outdoors if it goes off as planned right now,” Meadows continued.  

Speaking to reporters in Allentown, Pa., Trump said the event would not be a “large event” but a “just a very nice event.”

Trump nominated Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgJuan Williams: Time for Justice Breyer to go Democrats: Roe v. Wade blow would fuel expanding Supreme Court Abortion fight front and center ahead of midterms MORE roughly a week after her death. The Senate has moved quickly to advance Barrett's nomination, despite objections from Democrats and a pair of Republicans to confirming her so close to Election Day.

Barrett is expected to win the votes of every GOP senator except for Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWhy the Democrats need Joe Manchin White House briefed on bipartisan infrastructure deal but says questions remain Bipartisan Senate group announces infrastructure deal MORE (Maine), who has said she will vote against Barrett’s nomination because of the proximity to the election. Collins is currently facing a difficult reelection battle.