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Brett Kavanaugh Confirmed by Senate, Creating Conservative Supreme Court Majority

Jessica Mason Pieklo

Kavanaugh's confirmation comes after what many lawmakers have called a sham investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against the judge.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court on a final vote of 50 to 48.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined Republicans to confirm Kavanaugh. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) withdrew her vote. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) was at his daughter’s wedding during the vote. 

Protesters interrupted throughout the Senate proceedings, including after Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Manchin voted to confirm Kavanaugh. Chants of “shame” could be heard throughout the vote.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation was one of the most contentious and controversial in Supreme Court history. Senate Republicans tightly controlled the disclosure process for Kavanaugh’s public record, limiting the scope of documents released and scheduling hearings and a final vote before the National Archives could release the entirety of the Kavanaugh documents. Senate Judiciary Republicans voted down repeated efforts by Democrats to gain access to those records, which included details about Kavanaugh’s time working on torture and detention policy in the Bush White House, as well as his time clerking for Judge Alex Kozinski, who retired from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in disgrace following a series of sexual misconduct allegations. 

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Controversy around the Kavanaugh nomination spiked when Christine Blasey Ford, a high school acquaintance of Kavanaugh’s came forward with credible allegations that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her in high school. A second accuser, Debbie Ramirez, also came forward with her own allegations against Kavanaugh. A third accuser, Julie Swetnick, also claims she was assaulted by Kavanaugh. 

The allegations drew new scrutiny to Kavanaugh’s sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he claimed he had never been accused of sexually inappropriate conduct, as well as claims by Kavanaugh that he did not binge drink in high school and college. 

Under pressure following those allegations, Judiciary Committee member Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said he would vote to advance the Kavanaugh nomination out of committee but only on the condition that the FBI be allowed to conduct a one-week investigation into Ford’s and Ramirez’s allegations. After some pushback, President Trump agreed to allow the FBI to re-open Kavanaugh’s background check and investigate the assault allegations. 

But the supplemental FBI investigation was flawed from the beginning with Republicans limiting who agents could speak to and what evidence they could gather to corroborate the allegations against Kavanaugh, including refusing to let agents interview Ford. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scheduled the Kavanaugh vote before the FBI investigation had concluded, leading critics to allege Republicans used the investigation as cover to advance a deeply flawed nominee rather than a good faith investigation into credible allegations of assault against Kavanaugh. 

“This is a dark day for our country,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said in a statement. “Senate Republicans have installed a far-right justice with a disturbing personal and public record on women’s rights and autonomy. And they’ve sent women and survivors of sexual assault a chilling message: politics come before justice in the U.S. Senate.”

Kavanaugh will be sworn in and will being hearing cases.

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