By Alexander Santana
With 50 yeas and 48 nays Brett M. Kavanaugh was confirmed on October 6th by the U.S. Senate to serve as the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin was the only Democratic Senator to vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation while Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted present and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) was not present for the vote since he was at his daughter’s wedding. Manchin is running for re-election in the November 2018 midterm elections in a state that President Donald Trump won by almost 68% of the vote in the 2016 presidential election. The vote came as a result of weeks of deep tension throughout the nation and in the halls of Congress as Kavanaugh, 53, was accused by several women of sexual harassment, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Ford stated Kavanaugh had tried to rape her at a high school party in Maryland during the early 1980s when she was 15 years old and Kavanaugh was 17. This accusation from 36 years ago was strongly denied by Kavanaugh and he and Dr. Ford both appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee separately to testify on the accusations. During his hearing Kavanaugh swore before God and the nation that he did not assault Dr. Ford and he stated “I have never done this. To her or to anyone. That’s not who I am. It is not who I was. I am innocent of this charge.”
One Senator that notably voted in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation was Republican Susan Collins of Maine. The day before the vote Collins spoke on the Senator Floor indicating that she intended on voting for Kavanaugh. In her speech she stated, “The facts presented do not mean that Professor Ford was not sexually assaulted that night – or at some other time – but they do lead me to conclude that the allegations fail to meet the “more likely than not” standard. Therefore, I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the Court.” After her vote Collins spoke on Sunday news shows saying she believed Ford was indeed assaulted but that Kavanaugh was not the one. Collins, a moderate Republican serving since 1997, will be up for re-election in 2020, the same year as the next U.S. presidential election. Protestors in the Senate gallery disrupted the rare Saturday morning session several times and Vice President Mike Pence had to ask for the Senate Sergeant at Arms to remove them from the chamber.
Hours after he was confirmed as the 114th Justice Kavanaugh went to the Supreme Court building with his family where he was sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Kavanaugh served as Kennedy’s law clerk after graduating from Yale Law School and his confirmation marks the first time a former law clerk has taken the seat of a Justice they clerked for. A public swearing in ceremony was held at the White House on October 8th and Kavanaugh was surrounded by his wife and two daughters, his parents, members of Congress, all eight current member of the Supreme Court, and supporters from Washington, D.C.’s legal and Catholic communities. At the beginning of the ceremony President Donald Trump apologized to Kavanaugh and his family on behalf of the nation “for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure.” Kavanaugh, his wife Ashley, and Dr. Ford have all received death threats. In his remarks Kavanaugh stated “Although the Senate confirmation process tested me, as it has tested others, it did not change me. My goal is to be a great Justice for all Americans and for all of America.”
Kavanaugh also spoke about his views on how a judge should act. He stated “A good judge must be an umpire, a neutral and impartial decider who favors no litigant or policy. A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”