WASHINGTON – The United States Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court with a narrow 50-48 vote on Saturday, ending a bitter and intensely partisan battle over the nominee that included an 11th-hour FBI investigation into sexual-assault allegations.
Kavanaugh will fill the seat on the nine-person high court left open when Anthony Kennedy retired this summer.
US Vice President Mike Pence, who presided the Senate session, confirmed the 50-48 margin, while President Donald Trump was quick to congratulate the Senate.
“I applaud and congratulate the US Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court. Later today, I will sign his Commission of Appointment, and he will be officially sworn in. Very exciting!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Despite the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh and last-minute doubts regarding how moderate Republicans planned on voting, the judge was confirmed after receiving the crucial “yes” votes of Republican Senators Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, as well as Democrat Joe Manchin, who was the only one in his party to break ranks.
Even though the US Senate is made up of 100 lawmakers, the total number of votes was 98, as conservative Senator Steve Daines was at his daughter’s wedding in Montana, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who was going to vote “no,” decided to vote “present.”
Prior to the vote, Pence repeatedly had to call for order as dozens of people began shouting slogans against Kavanaugh from the Senate gallery.
Saturday’s vote was the last step in a process that began on July 9, when Trump announced Kavanaugh’s nomination.
On Sept. 4, the Senate Judiciary Committee began its hearings to examine Kavanaugh’s candidacy, which was questioned by Democrats due to the judge’s stances on abortion and presidential powers.
Just as the committee was preparing to put Kavanaugh’s nomination to a vote, Democrats pointed to a sexual assault accusation against the judge made by psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford.
Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982, delivered her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27.
Ford’s allegations were followed by similar sexual assault accusations made by two other women, which led senators to pressure Trump into allowing the FBI to launch an investigation into the matter and to draft a report, which was delivered to the Senate on Thursday.
Trump backed Kavanaugh throughout the whole process, claiming that the sexual assault accusations against the judge were a fabrication organized by the Democrats.
“He will be a great justice of the Supreme Court, people have thought that for 10 years, and he’s just an extraordinary person with great, great talent,” Trump told reporters prior to the Senate vote.