Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, was confirmed to the court Saturday in a 50-48 Senate vote.
The Senate vote was largely divided along party lines, with Lisa Murkowski of Alaska the only Republican to stray from her party's mandate, voting "present" rather than "no." Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia was the only Democrat to vote in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation. Just before the final vote, the Senate gallery roared as protestors shouted “I stand with survivors!” and “This process is corrupt!” in dissent of Kavanaugh's confirmation.
Following Donald Trump's decision to nominate Kavanaugh, the judge's views on the scope of executive power as defined in the constitution and a woman's right to chose fueled a partisan debate between Republican and Democratic Senators. Although Democrats fought to oppose his nomination, with Republicans currently in control of the Senate the judge's path to the Supreme Court appeared to be locked in. However, it wasn't until Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and two other women accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault and sexual misconduct, that the judge's confirmation was no longer considered to be a swift nomination.
Dr. Ford stood in front of the judiciary committee and gave a detailed account of the alleged sexual assault, which she claimed happened while the two were in high school. As the judge spoke in front of the committee, he became defensive and notably angry, while Dr. Ford, although clearly in distress, was calm, sincere and forthright.
Following an FBI investigation into Ford's allegations, the probe found no corroborating evidence to support the claims. Despite this finding, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine indicated that they would continue to review the evidence before coming to their decisions. Both Senators ultimately decided to vote in favor of Kavanaugh's nomination.
During a speech at Princeton University, Justice Elena Kegan expressed her concerns regarding Kavanaugh's confirmation, expressing the partisan whiplash that his nomination has triggered. “Part of the court’s strength and part of the court’s legitimacy depends on people not seeing the court in the way that people see the rest of the governing structures of this country now.”
In a tweet following the news of Kavanaugh's confirmation, Donald Trump tweeted a congratulatory message to his nominee. "I applaud and congratulate the U.S. 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!" the tweet read.
Although Kavanaugh, at the age of 53, will likely serve on the court for decades to come, this will undoubtedly have lasting effects on the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the entire country. Kavanaugh is replacing former justice Anthony Kennedy, a moderate Republican who was often a swing vote on landmark Supreme Court decisions. Kavanaugh remains much further to the right than his predecessor, shifting the ideological balance of the court for the foreseeable future.