The bitterly polarized Senate narrowly confirmed Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday to join the Supreme Court. The near party-line vote was 50-48, capping a fight that seized the national conversation after claims emerged that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted women three decades ago, which he emphatically denied, the Associated Press reports. Those claims magnified the clash from a routine Supreme Court struggle over judicial ideology into an angrier jumble of questions about victims’ rights, the presumption of innocence and personal attacks on nominees. The battle featured a climactic roll call that was interrupted several times by protesters in the Senate Gallery before Capitol Police removed them.
The vote gave President Trump his second appointee to the court, tilting it further to the right and pleasing conservative voters who might have revolted against GOP leaders had Kavanaugh’s nomination flopped. Democrats hope that the roll call, a month from elections in which House and Senate control are in play, will prompt infuriated women and liberals to oust Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said a vote for Kavanaugh was “a vote to end this brief, dark chapter in the Senate’s history and turn the page toward a brighter tomorrow.” Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York looked ahead to November, appealing to voters beyond the Senate chamber: “Change must come from where change in America always begins: the ballot box.” Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, confronting a tough re-election race next month in a state that Trump won in 2016 by a landslide, was the sole Democrat to vote for Kavanaugh. Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, the only Republican to oppose the nominee, voted “present,” offsetting the absence of Kavanaugh supporter Steve Daines of Montana, who was attending his daughter’s wedding.