Republican Sen. Susan Collins backs Kavanaugh, paving way for confirmation

Charlene Craig
October 8, 2018

A sharply divided Senate - reflecting a deeply divided nation - voted nearly entirely along party lines Saturday afternoon to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A deeply divided US Senate has pushed Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination past a key procedural hurdle, setting up a likely final showdown on Saturday.

Their support makes Saturday's vote to confirm Kavanaugh an apparent formality after a battle that riveted the nation for almost a month.

A petition to have Kavanaugh impeached was started immediately after he was voted onto the Supreme Court by the group Free Speech for People.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is estimated to have 51 senators who will vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

But the fight was defined by sexual assault accusations, especially Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that a drunken Kavanaugh tried raping her at a 1982 high school gathering. The vote comes after Kavanaugh faced accusations of sexual misconduct from Ramirez and other women. Kavanaugh denies the allegation, while she has stood by her testimony.

The committee paused the nomination process for a week so the FBI could investigate.

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Democrats said Kavanaugh would push the court too far, including possible sympathetic rulings for Trump should the president encounter legal problems from the special counsel's investigations into Russian connections with his 2016 presidential campaign.

The FBI submitted its investigation early this week, which was then sent to the Senate for the lawmakers to have a look at it and have an informed decision.

Protesters greeted senators with shouts of both opposition and support, and at one point the rallying chant "I believe survivors" echoed through a Senate office building.

"We've energized people across the country to take actions regarding Donald Trump", said Mack. She added, "This behavior revealed a hostility and a belligerence that is unbecoming of someone seeking to be elevated to the United States Supreme Court".

He barely survived a procedural test on Friday, when senators voted 51-49 to advance his nomination to a final vote, which is expected to occur around 5 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Saturday. Vice President Mike Pence presided, his potential tie-breaking vote unnecessary.

Friday's announcements of support by Republican Susan Collins of ME and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia made the final confirmation vote a formality, though still an emotional one.

"I think based on judicial philosophy...his failure to say he will recuse himself from issues involving the president who appointed him, the incredible lack of documentation based upon his record, and his demeanor last week disqualifies him".

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He said if there are going to be "do-overs" every time the congressional majorities change, there will never be a stable Supreme Court.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, who faces a tough re-election as Montana's Democratic U.S. senator, has said he will vote against Kavanaugh. He accused Democrats of using destructive, unwarranted personal attacks on the nominee and even encouraging the protesters, saying, "They have encouraged mob rule".

"If my good friend Steve Daines can participate in his daughter's wedding and ensure Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, I'm happy to help for the sake of family and country", Gianforte said in a statement. That roll call will end a contest fought against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement and Trump's unyielding support of his nominee.

Murkowski said after last week's hearings before the Judiciary Committee that she felt strongly that "the appearance of impropriety was unavoidable".

Kavanaugh's confirmation process was scrambled by allegations of sexual misconduct and assault that emerged in recent weeks.

Republicans who support Kavanaugh have grown more enthusiastic about voting in the November midterm elections, which Democrats previously seemed to have an edge on, various polls this week showed.

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