Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed to become the next justice of the United States Supreme Court.
The Senate gathered for a vote on Saturday afternoon, in which Kavanaugh was confirmed, 50 to 48. Per The New York Times, the decision followed hours of speeches from senators who took the floor, and as Vice President Mike Pence presided over the final vote, the gallery erupted into screaming protests that disrupted the start of the vote. The protesters continued to interrupt the vote intermittently and were forcibly removed by the Senate's Sergeant at Arms. Pro- and anti-Kavanaugh protesters gathered outside the Capitol building all day.
The vote was made possible by the last-minute support of Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona, along with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The senators’ endorsement ensured Kavanaugh’s final confirmation, despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, strong Democratic opposition, and national backlash that has made Kavanaugh a historically unpopular Supreme Court nominee. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski remained a no, but voted "present" due to fellow Republican Senator Steve Daines's inability to be there and vote yes because he was attending his daughter's wedding. Murkowski noted that their votes would not change the outcome.
Kavanaugh has denied the allegations against him, which include sexual assault, attempted rape, exposing himself, and thrusting his penis in someone's face without consent. The claims culminated in a high-profile hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted and attempted to rape her when they were teenagers.
A limited FBI investigation into the allegations, which Republicans say found no evidence corroborating the claims against Kavanaugh, wrapped last week. According to The New York Times, only nine people were interviewed during the investigation. Kavanaugh and Ford were not on that list. Multiple news outlets, including The New Yorker and NBC News, also revealed that dozens of other people who could have spoken about the case were not approached by the FBI.
President Donald Trump said to reporters ahead of the vote, "[Brett Kavanaugh] will be a great justice of the Supreme Court, people have thought that for 10 years. They've thought he's an extraordinary person, a great talent. He's going to make us very proud. I also felt very strongly that in the end, maybe the process — it was really unattractive — but the extra week was something that was really good...I think a lot of very positive things happened in the last week. It didn't look that way, but in the end that's what happened. [Dr. Blasey Ford's testimony] was uncorroborated, it was so many different things."
Over the last few days, he also tweeted his approval of the Senate’s decision to push forward the vote, his support of “Women for Kavanaugh” demonstrators, and his criticism of protesters at Capitol Hill, making unsubstantiated claims that they were “paid professionals.”
Kavanaugh’s confirmation, especially in the lead-up to next month’s midterm elections, has immediately sparked speculation as to what comes next. Kavanaugh will be sworn in to take retired justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the court, but considering the entrenched Democratic opposition to Kavanaugh's appointment, the possibility of impeachment has been floated. According to The Washington Post, some Democrats are considering making Kavanaugh’s impeachment a 2020 campaign platform. The Post also reports that experts believe that if Democrats take back the House, there’s a chance impeachment proceedings could be introduced in the next Congress — although it’s difficult to estimate the likelihood of that option panning out until after November.