Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to Supreme Court
Brett Kavanaugh has been voted onto the United States Supreme Court following a contentious confirmation process.
The Senate voted to confirm President Donald Trump’s second nominee in a 50-48 vote, solidifying the high court’s conservative majority.
Senators voted largely along party lines, with just two — Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) — breaking ranks.
Sen. Steven Daines (R-Mt.) was not present for the vote, as he was attending his his daughter’s wedding.
Murkowski, a moderate Republican, voted present after announcing her opposition to Kavanaugh on Friday.
Manchin, the red state Democrat, voted with Republicans to confirm. He announced on Friday that he would support the judge, despite having “reservations” about his demeanor and the accusations of sexual misconduct three women have publicly leveled against him in recent weeks.
Kavanaugh was accused of drunkenly assaulting Palo Alto University psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford when the two were teenagers in the early 1980s.
The accusations led to a high-profile, emotionally charged hearing in which Ford testified that she was “100%” certain Kavanaugh had attacked her when they were in high school.
Kavanaugh forcefully denied her allegations, along with those of Ramirez and Swetnick, and said they were a “political hit” by Democrats seeking to obstruct his confirmation. He also sparred with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee and made a number of dubious or false claims in response to their questions, leading to further questions about his judicial temperament, his credibility and his capacity to serve as an impartial judge.
But Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), strongly defended Kavanaugh and railed against Democrats for putting him through “hell.”
“This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics,” Graham said in a fiery tirade against Democrats during Kavanaugh’s sexual assault hearing in September.
Trump has continuously defended Kavanaugh as an “outstanding” person and in recent days has questioned Ford’s credibility, mocking her emotional testimony during a campaign rally in Mississippi on Tuesday.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation comes days after the FBI concluded a “limited” investigation into Ford’s allegations. Republicans said the probe supported their view that the accusations were “uncorroborated,” but Democrats — along with Ford — have blasted the investigation as inadequate.
Protesters demonstrated as the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh on Saturday after a number of prominent confrontations with lawmakers throughout the week. More than 300 were reportedly arrested in anti-Kavanaugh protests in the week leading up to the vote Saturday.
Trump has repeatedly accused the demonstrators of being “paid” to protest, and on Saturday tweeted support for the judge.
“Big day for America!” he wrote.
In comments to reporters ahead of the vote, he praised both Kavanaugh and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), whose support for the judge ensured his nomination.
“I think [Kavanaugh is] gonna make us all very proud,” Trump said as he left Washington for a rally Saturday. “This is a very exciting time.”
He chose Kavanaugh from a list of potential nominees who had been vetted by the conservative Federalist Society.
Democrats strongly opposed the nomination, raising concerns about his views on a number of issues, including abortion rights and executive power. Critics have also characterized him as inappropriately partisan, citing his time working in the George W. Bush administration.
The confirmation itself proved controversial, with Democrats accusing Republicans of rushing the process.
Kavanaugh is the second Supreme Court justice to be appointed by Trump.
The first, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed to replace Antonin Scalia in April 2017.