Kavanaugh confirmed as Supreme Court justice after fraught, bipartisan battle

The Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice Saturday evening, bringing to conclusion months  of furious political infighting that was in part sparked by multiple accusations of sexual assault that were vehemently denied by the nominee. Kavanaugh’s appointment likely paves the way for a more conservative court for decades to come.

The vote was 50-48, along party lines.

]Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, withdrew her vote so her colleague, Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., could stay at his daughter's wedding in his home state.

On Friday, it became evident the Senate had the necessary votes to confirm Kavanaugh after critical holdouts -- Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Susan Collins, R-Maine -- announced they would support the 53-year-old federal judge.

"I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court," Collins said on Friday while explaining why she was going to vote in favor of confirming Kavanaugh.The “charges” Collins referenced are those of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. A dramatic and bitter showdown began on Capitol Hill last week when Ford testified in front of the Senate after alleging Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school in the early 1980s.

Colling said she believed Ford had been sexually assaulted, but not by Kavanaugh.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ala., voted no to invoke cloture on the nomination, the only Republican to do so.

Kavanaugh spoke after Ford last week, during which he delivered an emotional, and sometimes angry, opening statement that drew swift rebukes from Democrats, who said he displayed blatant partisanship and lacked the proper temperament for a Supreme Court Justice. In his prepared remarks, Kavanaugh had written that the hearing was “revenge on behalf of the Clintons”; he later apologized in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.

One of the key Republican senators who was unsure about how to vote after the testimonies, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., requested an FBI investigation before the Senate could proceed with confirming Kavanaugh, but effectively advanced his nomination toward a final Senate floor vote. Democrats lambasted the short-lived FBI investigation as a “sham”, while Republicans criticized Democrats for their treatment of Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh will be the second Supreme Court justice nominated by President Trump, who nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in April 2017. Kavanaugh will replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired over the summer. Kennedy often acted as a swing vote on the court, and sided with his more-liberal colleagues on issues like abortion and gay marriage.