As it happenedended1538880032

Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to Supreme Court amid widespread outcry over sexual assault allegations – as it happened

Donald Trump's second nominee to the court is confirmed 50-48 

Sen. Collins: “I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh”

Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed as the next US Supreme Court justice by the Senate after a highly charged confirmation process in which he was accused of sexual assault.

At a passionate hearing last week, Mr Kavanaugh denied allegations levelled against him by psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford that he assaulted her while they were both at high school in 1982.

Several key wavering senators confirmed on Friday they would approve Mr Kavanaugh’s nomination to the court after a mammoth series of hearings lasting more than 30 hours.

Ultimately, Mr Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48.

Republican Senator Steve Daines was not present since his daughter is getting married in Montana today. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski was the lone party defector, but she declined to formally cast her "no" vote out of respect for the party and because it would not have made a difference in the final decision to place Mr Kavanaugh on the court.

The judge scraped through a procedural ballot 51 to 49 after key swing voters such as Republican senator Susan Collins and Democrat Joe Manchin announced they would support his appointment.

Please allow a moment for the live stream to load

The vote has set the stage for lawmakers to sign off on his ascension to a seat on the nation’s highest court over the weekend.

However, Mr Kavanaugh’s appointment has proved contentious after several women came forward during the course of the hearings to accuse him of sexual misconduct.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee received testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, one of Mr Kavanaugh’s accusers as part of the evidence sessions.

The hearing saw Ms Ford give a tearful account of an incident at a house party in 1982, during which she alleges she was assaulted by Mr Kavanaugh while one of his friends watched on.

The judge, who denies all the accusations made against him, gave a combative and at times aggressive defence of himself to the committee.

Dr Christine Blasey Ford describes alleged sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh

However, he repeatedly dodged the question of whether he would accept an FBI investigation into the allegations that could potentially clear his name.

Protests were staged on Capitol Hill throughout the day, with some women openly weeping over the prospect of Mr Kavanaugh being appointed to the court.

Friday’s senate vote appeared to please Donald Trump, who nominated the judge to take the empty seat left by the retirement of judge Anthony Kennedy.

“Very proud of the US Senate for voting “YES” to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!” the president tweeted.

Mr Kavanaugh’s appointment to the seat previously held by the moderate Justice Kennedy means the Supreme Court is likely to drift to the right for decades.

Conservative judges would outnumber their liberal colleagues five to four on the court once his nomination is approved as expected.

1538812394

Welcome to our live updates on a day in which senators are likely to confirm judge Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the US Supreme Court.

The embattled judge won a senate procedural vote 51 to 49 on Friday, setting the stage for his place on the nation's highest court to be confirmed over the weekend.

1538816326

Brett Kavanaugh is set to be confirmed on Saturday after a number of potential swing voters in the Senate announced they would approve his appointment.

One of those key securing enough support for Mr Kavanaugh to drag his nomination over the line is Democratic senator Joe Manchin, who has said he will defy his party and vote favour of the judge.

Meanwhile, wavering Republican senators Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, have also now stated they will support Mr Kavanaugh.

1538816829

US president Donald Trump, who nominated Brett Kavanaugh to take the place of retired judge Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court in July, tweeted yesterday he was "proud" of the Senate for backing his candidate by 51 to 49 in a razor-thin vote.

1538817944

Meanwhile, retired Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens has said Brett Kavanaugh should not be confirmed by senators.

The 98-year-old, who was appointed to the US’s highest court under the presidency of Gerald Ford in 1975 and served on the bench until 2010, has previously praised Mr Kavanaugh and one of his rulings.

But, Mr Stevens said his opinion on the judge had changed after his infamous performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he gave evidence on sexual assault allegations that have dogged him during the nomination process.

Mr Stevens also said Mr Kavanaugh would be unable to perform his job effectively due to his potential political biases.  

1538821393

Senators on both sides of the house have plenty to say about Brett Kavanaugh's second appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, when he answered to allegations of sexual assault made against him by Christine Blasey Ford and several other women.

The judge refuted the claims during an ill-tempered testimony last week, in which he often raised his voice and appeared aggressive towards lawmakers who challenged him on his version of events.

Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein says the hearing showed Mr Kavanaugh did not possess the necessary temperament to serve on the highest court in the United States. 

However, one of her Republican counterparts, Orrin Hatch, who has stated he believes the allegations made against Mr Kavanaugh are false, tweeted a quote from a recent article defending the judge in conservative magazine National Review.

1538823009

Why is Kavanaugh appointment so important?

If confirmed, Brett Kavanaugh will ascend to the US Supreme Court, after which he will be free to remain on the bench for the rest of his life.

The court’s judges are offered lifetime positions in a bid to unburden them of having to make particular rulings based on political pressures they may instead bow to if they were seeking re-election.

Mr Kavanaugh will take the seat of the now-retired justice Anthony Kennedy – a swing voter who often cast the deciding opinion on many of the nine-judge court’s recent rulings.

However, Mr Kavanaugh is likely to tip the balance in favour of the court’s conservative judges, who will now outnumber their liberal colleagues five to four.

At 53, Mr Kavanaugh could serve upwards of three decades on the bench, during which time the court could remain staunchly on the right.

1538827720

How is the vote poised?

The Senate vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is finely balanced, with the “yes” side winning a procedural ballot yesterday by the slim margin of 51 to 49.

Those who voted “no” included 47 Democratic senators, independents Bernie Sanders and Angus King, and a single Republican, while the 51 “yes” votes were made up of 50 Republican senators and one Democrat.

Joe Manchin, the only Democrat to vote for Mr Kavanaugh’s confirmation, is likely under pressure from the next month's midterm elections.

A senator for West Virginia, a state that has voted for the Republican candidate in every presidential election since 2000 and where every single county voted for Donald Trump in 2016, Mr Manchin may feel he needs to support the judge in order to save his seat.

Meanwhile, Alaska’s Republican senator Lisa Murkowiski voted against Mr Kavanaugh’s confirmation proceeding on Friday, although she has yet to announce which side she will opt for in the final poll.

Republican senator Susan Collins, who some felt could be swayed to vote “no” on the judge’s appointment, announced yesterday she instead plans to vote in his favour.

1538829939

1538832057

Senators have now begun debating Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court for what is likely to be the last time, before a final vote takes place on whether or not to confirm his ascension later today.

You can now follow all the action from Washington in our video live stream at the top of this page alongside our updates on the latest talking points and analysis from Saturday's hearing.

1538833583

While the impending midterm elections may play a part in Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, Democrat representative from New York, Jerrold Nadler, has said his party will open an investigation into allegations of sexual assault and perjury against the judge if they win control of the House in November.

Mr Nadler has accused Senate Republicans of conducting a "whitewash" of misconduct claims made against the judge during the course of his confirmation process and warned the situation served to undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.

“[Opening an investigation into Mr Kavanaugh] is not something we are eager to do,” Mr Nadler said in an interview on Friday.

“But, the Senate having failed to do its proper constitutionally mandated job of advise and consent, we are going to have to do something to provide a check and balance, to protect the rule of law and to protect the legitimacy of one of our most important institutions.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in