Judge Brett Kavanaugh cleared a major hurdle Friday morning in his quest for the Supreme Court, as the Senate voted narrowly to cut off debate on his nomination and move to a final vote as early as Saturday, but one Republican senator left open the possibility that she could still vote no.
The 51-49 vote is the next-to-last step in the most tumultuous Supreme Court confirmation process in decades. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said her vote to move the confirmation forward did not signal how she will vote in the end. Instead, she will announce her position on Kavanaugh at 3 p.m. Friday. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also voted yes, freeing Vice President Mike Pence from a tiebreaking vote on the nomination after Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted no.
For Kavanaugh, and the country, the stakes are huge: If confirmed, President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee will replace the high court’s swing vote, retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, with a committed conservative, shifting the ideological balance on the court toward the right for generations.
Friday’s vote ushers in 30 hours of debate before the Senate takes its final vote on Kavanaugh. It came as senators were still absorbing the results of a confidential FBI inquiry into allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh, allegations that have torn apart the Senate and divided the nation.
Republicans hailed the FBI results as favorable to Kavanaugh, saying that none of nine witnesses interviewed corroborated stories from two women, Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, whose accusations were investigated. Democrats branded the investigation as a whitewash, saying that the FBI failed to pursue leads and interview witnesses who had relevant information.
Trump prepared senators for the vote, exhorting them to ignore the protesters that have swarmed the Senate. He called them “paid professionals” and intimated that they are paid by George Soros, a liberal financier who has long starred in the conspiracy theories of the far right.
Source: Gulf News