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Kavanaugh poised for confirmation to Supreme Court

photo by AP photo

Brett Kavanaugh, shown here testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee, is expected to be confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice in a Senate vote.

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07th-Oct-2018       
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Washington Post :
A bitterly divided Senate cleared the way for Brett Kavanaugh to become the next Supreme Court justice as President Donald Trump's nominee secured the support of a handful of wavering senators in a tumultuous confirmation fight.
During a frenzied day Friday on Capitol Hill, two Republicans - Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona - and one Democrat - Joe Manchin III of West Virginia - said they would vote for Kavanaugh, whose confirmation seemed in peril three weeks ago over allegations of sexual misconduct. Another lawmaker, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, broke with her party, saying Kavanaugh was a good man but "not the right man for the court at this time."Their pronouncements turned Saturday's confirmation vote into a fait accompli, and one that will reverberate for the judiciary, the Senate and the nationwide #MeToo movement.
Kavanaugh, 53, would cement a conservative majority on the nation's highest court as he replaces the swing vote of retired justice Anthony Kennedy. But the federal appeals court judge will take the ninth seat under a cloud of controversy.
The acrimonious battle is certain to influence next month's midterm elections, pitting energized female voters angered by the treatment of Kavanaugh's accusers against conservatives who see him as a man wrongly accused.
Confirmation would be a win for Trump, who gets two justices on the Supreme Court, and a crowning achievement for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has long prized a conservative transformation of the federal judiciary and has found an eager partner in not only Trump but also White House counsel Donald McGahn. McConnell blocked President Barack Obama's final Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, from getting a vote in 2016 and muscled dozens of appeals and district court nominees through the Senate, in addition to the confirmation of now-Justice Neil Gorsuch, under the Trump presidency.
In a key procedural vote earlier Friday, Flake, Collins and Manchin joined with nearly all Republicans on a 51-to-49 vote to advance Kavanaugh's nomination. After the vote, Flake said he will vote to confirm Kavanaugh on Saturday "unless something big changes," which he said he did not expect.
Collins delivered a forceful, point-by-point defense of Kavanaugh, his judicial record and his personal character in a 44-minute speech that was applauded by nearly two dozen of her GOP colleagues.
"We've heard a lot of charges and countercharges about Judge Kavanaugh, but as those who have known him best have attested, he has been an exemplary public servant, judge, teacher, coach, husband and father," Collins said. "Despite the turbulent, bitter fight surrounding his nomination, my fervent hope is that Brett Kavanaugh will work to lessen the divisions in the Supreme Court so that we have far fewer 5-4 decisions and so that public confidence in our judiciary and our highest court is restored."
In a near echo of Trump, Collins raised questions about the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who alleged that Kavanaugh drunkenly pinned her to a bed, groped her and put his hand over her mouth to stifle her screams as he tried to take off her clothes at a gathering at a house in the early 1980s.
"I found her testimony to be sincere, painful and compelling. I believe that she is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life," Collins said. "Nevertheless, the four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events of that evening gathering where she says the assault occurred; none of the individuals Professor Ford says were at the party has any recollection at all of that night."
Manchin, a red-state Democrat up for reelection in a deeply conservative state next month, said shortly after Collins concluded her speech that while he had reservations, he believe Kavanaugh was qualified enough to sit on the nation's most powerful court.
"I do hope that Judge Kavanaugh will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court," Manchin said.
Moments after he issued that statement, Manchin emerged from his office to talk to reporters assembled outside. But furious protesters drowned out the journalists, screaming "Shame! Shame! Shame!" and "Think of your daughters!"

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