Senate Votes To Confirm Kavanaugh To Supreme Court
After a highly contentious confirmation process, the Senate confirmed federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday.
The Senate voted 50 to 48 in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, with Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voting “present.”
Murkowski previously indicated her opposition to confirming Kavanaugh but decided to vote “present” as a courtesy to Senator Steve Daines, R-Mont., who was absent to attend his daughter’s wedding.
The vote largely came down along party lines, as Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.V., was the lone Democrat to vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation was virtually guaranteed after previously undecided Senators Manchin, Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced their support for the judge’s nomination.
The vote to confirm Kavanaugh came after several dramatic twists and turns in the confirmation process after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assaulting her when they were both in high school.
Ford and Kavanaugh both gave emotional testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, with Kavanaugh categorically denying Ford’s allegations.
Kavanaugh received both praise and criticism for his fiery testimony, as he lashed out at the Democratic members of the committee and slammed his confirmation process as a “national disgrace.”
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Kavanaugh claimed his “forceful and passionate” testimony reflected his “overwhelming frustration at being wrongly accused” as well as his “deep distress at the unfairness of how this allegation has been handled.”
“I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times,” Kavanaugh wrote. “I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad.”
Kavanaugh rejected arguments that his attacks on Democrats and liberals during his testimony would prevent him from being an independent and impartial Supreme Court justice.
However, critics pointed out that some of Kavanaugh’s harshest attacks were contained in his prepared statement.
The vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination was delayed last week after undecided Senators indicated they would withhold their support for the Supreme Court nominee without a new FBI investigation of sexual misconduct allegations.
Republicans claim the FBI investigation turned up zero corroboration for the allegations against Kavanaugh, while Democrats have criticized the limited scope of the probe.
Ahead of the final vote, Democrats took to the Senate floor overnight to express their opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination, citing concerns about the sexual misconduct allegations as well as the judge’s temperament and judicial philosophy.
In a highly anticipated speech on the Senate floor Friday afternoon, Collins noted the broad discretion given to presidents in choosing their Supreme Court nominees and referenced her past support for nominees by presidents from both parties.
Citing opinions and comments by Kavanaugh, Collins also dismissed concerns about the judge’s views on issues such as Obamacare, presidential power, same-sex marriage, and abortion rights.
Collins also said she believes Ford is a survivor of sexual assault but argued that without corroboration, her allegations do not meet the threshold of “more likely than not.”
Assured that he would not be the deciding vote, Manchin subsequently announced his support for Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“I have reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing and my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life,” Manchin said in a statement.
He added, “However, based on all of the information I have available to me, including the recently completed FBI report, I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him.”
With the vote in the Senate, Kavanaugh will replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired from the Supreme Court at the end of July.
Kennedy was seen as more moderate, leading to concerns among liberals that Kavanaugh’s appointment will give the court a more conservative tilt for generations.
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