Vincent Obia with agency reports
A deeply divided United States Senate confirmed Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Saturday after a tense vote that ended in victory for President Donald Trump. Kavanaugh’s confirmation also ended a rancorous Washington battle that began as a debate over ideology and jurisprudence and concluded with questions of sexual misconduct.
Shortly after the 50-48 confirmation vote on his Supreme Court nominee, Trump tweeted that Kavanaugh would be quickly sworn in. “I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Later today, I will sign his Commission of Appointment, and he will be officially sworn in. Very exciting!”
The Senate voted almost entirely along party lines. It did not go smoothly — protesters repeatedly interrupted the proceedings, with the Capitol Police dragging screaming demonstrators out of the gallery as the senators sat somberly at their wooden desks in the chamber below. “This is a stain on American history!” one woman cried, as the vote wrapped up. “Do you understand?”
The final result was expected, as all senators had announced their intentions by Friday. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — the lone Republican to break with her party — was recorded as “present” instead of “no” as a gesture to a colleague, Senator Steve Daines of Montana, who was attending his daughter’s wedding and would have voted “yes.” By voting present, she maintained the two-vote margin that had pushed the nomination past a crucial procedural hurdle on Friday. Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia was the lone Democrat to support Judge Kavanaugh.
As the senators entered their final hours of debate on Saturday, hundreds of Kavanaugh opponents were massed on the steps of the Supreme Court. They later rushed the barricades around the Capitol and sat on its steps, chanting “No means no!” as Capitol Police officers began arresting them. Women and sexual assault survivors around the country were furious, feeling as though their voices had not been heard.
Inside the chamber, protests erupted as Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, delivered a speech deploring “mob rule” — a reference to the activists and sexual assault survivors who have roamed the Capitol in recent weeks, confronting Republican senators. “I stand with survivors!” one shouted. “This process is corrupt!”
The appointment of Kavanaugh, 58, is for life and he will strengthen conservative control of the nine-judge court. He will be sworn in later on Saturday at the Supreme Court. Protesters have gathered there too to continue the demonstrations.