WASHINGTON – Brett Kavanaugh looked certain to be confirmed as the newest justice on the US Supreme Court after two senators said on Friday that they will vote for President Donald Trump’s nominee.
Hours after supporting a successful motion to end debate and schedule a final vote on the nomination for Saturday, Sens. Joe Manchin and Susan Collins said they would likewise vote for confirmation.
West Virginia’s Manchin is the only member of the Democratic minority to say he will vote for Kavanaugh, effectively canceling out the single Republican defector, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Collins, a Republican from Maine, announced her decision to vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation in a speech on the Senate floor that included criticism of the acrimony surrounding the process.
Originally seen as a potential “no” vote because of her support for abortion rights, Collins said that the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh “fail to meet the more likely than not standard.”
“Therefore I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court,” she said.
Sen. Jeff Flake, the retiring Arizona Republican who crafted last Friday’s agreement to delay the nomination a week to allow the FBI to investigate attempted-rape charges leveled against Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, likewise signaled that he will vote for the nominee.
With Friday’s announcements, Kavanaugh is set to be confirmed by a vote of 51-49.
Kavanaugh, currently a federal appellate judge, was nominated by Trump in July to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the retirement of Anthony Kennedy.
The Senate Judiciary Committee began hearings on the nomination on Sept. 4.
Democrats on the panel expressed concern that Kavanaugh would join the four other conservatives who are already on the court in voting to overturn the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that made abortion legal.
They also voiced misgivings that Kavanaugh, who worked in the White House under President George W. Bush, would favor an expansive interpretation of presidential power.
But before the committee could vote on the nomination, news of Ford’s accusations against Kavanaugh about a 1982 incident became public.
The committee eventually agreed to hold a public hearing with both Ford and Kavanaugh and it was in the wake of that sometimes stormy session that Flake called for an additional FBI probe.
The results of that investigation were delivered to the judiciary committee on Thursday.
After reading the confidential FBI report, Republican leaders said that the accusations against Kavanaugh were uncorroborated and demanded a final vote.
Democrats, meanwhile, said that Republicans were misrepresenting the report and renewed their complaints about the limited scope of the FBI’s enquiry.