The Brett Kavanaugh saga, wrapped around an allegation of a 36-year old sexual assault, has finally come to an end. The Senate voted 50-48 to confirm Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, making him the 114th Supreme Court justice.
The Senate voted on Oct. 6 to conclude an 89-day process between Kavanaugh’s nomination and his confirmation. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was announced by President Donald J. Trump on July 9.
The vote to confirm Kavanaugh comes after an FBI supplemental investigation that found no new or additional corroborating information regarding two sexual assault allegations against the newly-confirmed Supreme Court justice. The FBI submitted a report with their findings to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 4, after concluding a five-day investigation.
The Senate held a cloture vote on Oct. 5 to end the debate and set up the confirmation vote on Oct. 6. Also on Oct. 5, senators who were presumed to be on the fence about how they would vote on Oct. 6 revealed their intentions. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R- Alaska) originally said that she would vote “no” against confirming Kavanaugh. At the confirmation vote, she voted “present” instead.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D- West Virginia) said that he would vote “yes” to confirm Kavanaugh, making him the only Democrat to do so. Sen. Susan Collins (R- Maine) held a speech on the Senate floor on Oct. 5, where she announced that she would vote “yes.”
Collins stood on the Senate floor and began her speech by talking about how special interest groups influence their followers by spreading misrepresentations and falsehoods about Kavanaugh’s judicial record. She said that false headlines continued to thrive on social media, even after being debunked.
“Our Supreme Court confirmation process has been in steady decline for more than thirty years,” Collins said. “One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom.”
Collins said that while the president has the discretion to consider a Supreme Court nominee’s philosophy, it is her duty as a senator to consider that nominee’s qualifications. She cited Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist 76 from the “Federalist Papers.”
Collins said she believed that Christine Blasey Ford, who was the first person to deliver an allegation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh, was sincere when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27. However, the four witnesses she had named could not corroborate her story, Collins said, and that the allegation failed to meet the “more likely than not” standard.
At the end of a lengthy speech on the Senate floor, Collins announced that she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. From there, it became clear that the Senate had enough votes for his confirmation.
Sen. Steve Daines (R- Montana) did not attend the vote due to attending his daughter’s wedding. He walked her down the aisle. Since he couldn’t attend, Murkowski voted “present” so his absence would not have an effect on the final tally.
The FBI began their supplemental investigation on Sept. 28. It was the seventh time the FBI looked into Kavanaugh’s background. The investigation was ordered by the president after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-10 to move the confirmation past the committee to the full Senate.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R- Arizona) was the deciding vote on the committee. When he announced his vote, he said he was voting “yes,” but only on the condition that the FBI conduct a week-long investigation.
The FBI interviewed nine witnesses, but did not interview Ford or Kavanaugh. They interviewed Kavanaugh’s childhood Mark Judge, and Leyland Keyser, a close friend of Ford. They interviewed Deborah Ramirez, a woman who attended Yale with Kavanaugh. She alleged in September that Kavanaugh showed her his genitalia at a party during the early 1980s. That allegation was never confirmed or corroborated.
When the FBI’s report was submitted to the Senate, one copy was kept in the Senate basement. Senators were permitted to read the report one at a time in one-hour increments, in an attempt to prevent any leaks.
Hours after the Senate voted to confirm Kavanaugh, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swore him in as an associate justice. That brought an official end to what will be remembered as a confirmation filled with drama and chaos, vitriol and tribalism. Support for and against Kavanaugh was split down party lines.
Democrats strongly opposed Kavanaugh after he was nominated by Trump on July 9. Republicans were highly-favorable towards the nomination. With less than a month to go before the midterm election on Nov. 6, Kavanaugh’s confirmation is potentially a victory for Republicans and a defeat for Democrats.
Kavanaugh replaces Anthony Kennedy, who retired from the Supreme Court at the end of July.
You can read more from Mike Ursery on Think Liberty here.