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Senate confirms Kavanaugh to Supreme Court, cementing conservative majority

Multiple allegations of sexual misconduct didn't derail Kavanaugh's ascent.

The Senate narrowly voted to confirm Trump's historically unpopular Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, on Saturday. (CREDIT: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The Senate narrowly voted to confirm Trump's historically unpopular Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, on Saturday. (CREDIT: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The U.S. Senate voted 50-48 on Saturday to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, locking in a conservative majority that will likely have a deep and lasting impact for years to come.

Vice President Mike Pence presided over the vote, which was interrupted several times by screaming protesters who were dragged out one by one. Cries of, “Where’s my representation?” and “Shame on you!” pierced the roll call process repeatedly.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) broke ranks to vote with Republicans in favor of Kavanaugh’s nomination. Sen. Susan Collins (R-AK) was the only Republican not to vote “yes” on Kavanaugh; she voted “present.” As the final vote loomed, protesters gathered at the Capitol to denounce the confirmation of the most unpopular Supreme Court nominee in history.

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Kavanaugh was confirmed despite allegations of sexual misconduct by multiple women. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to come forward with allegations against Kavanaugh, testified that he pinned her down and tried to rape her at a house party when they were in high school. Ford said she came forward out of a sense of civic duty, believing senators would take her painful account into consideration when weighing his nomination.

Instead, Republican senators and Manchin largely coalesced around a version of a conspiracy theory spread by a conservative activist and Kavanaugh friend; basically, they believe someone assaulted Ford, but don’t believe it was Kavanaugh.

In contrast to Ford’s steady, polite testimony, Kavanaugh was aggressive and defiant during last week’s hearings, prompting widespread criticism that he clearly demonstrated he doesn’t have the temperament to serve on the high court. Several college classmates accused Kavanaugh of lying under oath about his excessive drinking — a key component of the sexual misconduct allegations against him.

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Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee largely adopted the same defiant posture, going out of their way to apologize to Kavanaugh and undermine his accusers.

As ThinkProgress’ Ian Millhiser has written, by moving forward with Kavanaugh’s nomination under these circumstances, senators effectively destroyed the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. Now, not only is the constitutional right to an abortion in the crosshairs of the new conservative majority, but the Court will likely be presented with many more cases disproportionately impacting women. “Ask yourself if you trust Brett Kavanaugh to be an impartial judge in any of these cases, given the credible allegations he now faces,” Millhiser wrote.

Debbie Ramirez, who accused Kavanaugh of thrusting his penis in her face and making her touch it during a college party, said watching senators line up behind Kavanaugh reminded her of the initial incident many years ago.

“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,” Ramirez said Saturday in a statement. “Only this time, instead of drunk college kids, it is US Senators who are deliberately ignoring his behavior. This is how victims are isolated and silenced.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) expressed her “angry, fury, disgust” at the process to confirm Kavanaugh on the Senate floor Saturday. “It’s not just up to the women in this country to stand up, men have to join us,” Hirono said. “They have to hold themselves and other men accountable.”