The U.S. Senate voted Saturday to approve Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, following weeks of controversy over sexual assault accusations and attacks on his character and temperament.
Kavanaugh was confirmed in a 50-48 vote. Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana was absent because he was attending his daughter’s wedding. That prompted Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to vote “present,” in a practice called “pairing” between senators. Murkowski was opposed to sending Kavanaugh to the high court, but withdrew her “no” vote as part of the pairing practice so that Daines would not have to be in the chamber.
As the senators voted, protesters in the Senate gallery screamed, “I do not consent!” and “Shame!” Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the session, repeatedly called for order.
President Donal;d Trump tweeted after the vote:
Analysts said Kavanaugh’s presence would give conservatives a 5-4 majority on the court. The lifetime appointment means the 53-year old Kavanaugh’s may serve on the highest court for decades.
He replaces retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. The nine-member court is currently operating with only eight justices.
Kavanaugh was accused of sexual misconduct by a woman who said he assaulted her at a home in suburban Washington when they were teenagers in the 1980s. He denied the accusation made by professor Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee more than a week ago.
The Senate narrowly voted Friday to limit debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination, advancing it to Saturday’s final confirmation vote. Senators have been confronted by protesters who oppose the Kavanaugh nomination, and police at the Capitol have arrested hundreds of demonstrators.
One of the women who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his time at Yale, Deborah Ramirez, said in a statement Saturday that the senators discussing the impending vote brought her back to the moment of the alleged misconduct.
“As I watch many of the senators speak and vote on the floor of the Senate I feel like I’m right back at Yale where half the room is laughing and looking the other way. Only this time, instead of drunk college kids, it is U.S. senators who are deliberately ignoring his behavior,” Ramirez said. “This is how victims are isolated and silenced.”
Shortly before the vote, Trump said Kavanaugh “will be a great justice of the Supreme Court.”
“He’s just an extraordinary person … and I think he’s going to make us all very proud,” Trump added.