US Senate poised to confirm Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh





Washington (AFP) - The US Senate is expected to confirm conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice on Saturday -- offering President Donald Trump a big political win and tilting the nation's high court decidedly to the right.

The months-long battle over Kavanaugh's nomination has gripped Washington, laying bare the partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill and the political polarization of America just a month before midterm elections.

The Senate vote, set to begin from 3:30 pm (1930 GMT), will bring an end to a raucous nomination process defined by harrowing testimony from a woman who says Kavanaugh tried to rape her when they were teenagers -- and by his fiery rebuttal.

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Trump will have succeeded in having his two picks seated on the court -- a major coup for the Republican leader less than halfway through his term.

Kavanaugh's promotion to the Supreme Court will also stand as a demoralizing defeat for Democrats who battled hard to block the 53-year-old judge at all costs.

His confirmation was all but sealed on Friday when he won the support of key Senate Republican Susan Collins and conservative Democrat Joe Manchin.

Their statements of support brought the number of senators supporting Kavanaugh to 51 in the 100-member chamber.

"This is a great day for America," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News late Friday, congratulating his colleagues for "refusing to roll over under all of this intense pressure."

- 'Presumption of innocence' -

Kavanaugh's nomination as a replacement for retiring justice Anthony Kennedy was controversial from the start -- but the initial focus was solely on the conservative views held by the married father of two.

His ascent to the Supreme Court was thrown into doubt last week after university research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford testified that he had sexually assaulted her at a Washington area party in the early 1980s.

The brutal hearing sparked a supplemental FBI dive into Kavanaugh's background and a week-long delay of the Senate vote.

While many senators say they were satisfied with the FBI probe, her lawyers say the investigation was insufficient.

"An FBI investigation that did not include interviews of Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh is not a meaningful investigation in any sense of the word," they said in a statement quoted in US media.

Collins -- a moderate Republican from Maine -- said Kavanaugh was entitled to the "presumption of innocence" as the allegations against him were not substantiated with corroborating evidence.

While acknowledging that Blasey Ford's testimony was "sincere, painful and compelling," Collins added: "We will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness."

Immediately after that speech, Manchin announced his support, calling Kavanaugh a "qualified jurist" who "will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court."

Manchin faces extraordinary political pressure. He is up for re-election in West Virginia, a state Trump won overwhelmingly in 2016.

The stage was set for Saturday's final confirmation when the Senate ended debate on the nomination on Friday with a procedural 51-49 vote -- a move cheered by Trump, who said he was "very proud."

- 'Elevator screamers' -

If he wins confirmation, Kavanaugh -- who saw questions raised during the bruising confirmation process over his candor, partisan rhetoric and lifestyle as a young man -- will seal a conservative majority on the nine-seat high court, possibly for decades to come.

His nomination has been met with loud protests, both in Washington and in other cities across the United States. On Friday, more than 100 people were detained on Capitol Hill.

Around 200 protesters gathered early Saturday outside the Capitol brandishing banners and chanting: "Hey hey, ha ha, we don't want no Kavanaugh," or "November is coming" and "Shame on you!"

Authorities took the very rare step of putting up low metal fences around the Capitol, keeping the public some distance from the building and allowing only credentialed staff to pass.

Trump tweeted that the demonstrators included female Kavanaugh supporters who were massing all over Capitol Hill.

"It is a beautiful thing to see - and they are not paid professional protesters who are handed expensive signs. Big day for America!," he said, in a swipe at the anti-Kavanaugh activists.

The president claimed on Friday that billionaire financier George Soros, a Democratic funder and frequent target of conservatives, was behind the demonstrations against his nominee.

- 'Agonizing' -

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican to break ranks in Friday's cloture vote.

She described her decision to oppose Kavanaugh as "agonizing," and said that while she hopes he will be a "neutral arbiter" on the court, he was not "the right person for the court at this time."

However, while she plans to vote "no" on Saturday, Murkowski said she would ask to be recorded as "present" in the final tally "as a courtesy" to a fellow Republican so he can attend his daughter's wedding instead of returning to Washington to vote.

"It will not change the outcome of the vote, but I do hope that it reminds us that we can take very small, very small steps to be gracious with one another," Murkowski said late Friday on the Senate floor.

"We owe it to the people of America to return to a less rancorous process."

COMMENTS

More Related News

War memorial or religious symbol? Cross fight reaches U.S. high court
War memorial or religious symbol? Cross fight reaches U.S. high court
  • US
  • 2019-02-22 12:42:06Z

There was nothing about it that made me think it was anything other than a Christian cross," Edwords, 70, said in an interview. Edwords and two other plaintiffs filed a 2014 lawsuit challenging the cross as a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from establishing an official religion and bars governmental actions favoring one religion over another. While the Establishment Clause's scope is a matter of dispute, most Supreme Court experts predict the challenge to the Peace Cross will fail, with the justices potentially setting a new precedent allowing greater government involvement in religious expression.

West Virginia teachers' strike ends: Teachers to return to class Thursday, unions say
West Virginia teachers' strike ends: Teachers to return to class Thursday, unions say

A year after their strike started a national movement, West Virginia public school teachers walked out for two days to stop a charter school bill.

Does a 40-foot Latin cross honoring World War I veterans violate the Constitution? The Supreme Court will decide.
Does a 40-foot Latin cross honoring World War I veterans violate the Constitution? The Supreme Court will decide.

The Supreme Court considers whether a Latin cross to honor World War I dead violates the First Amendment.

SCOTUS Cracks Down on Civil Asset Forfeiture
SCOTUS Cracks Down on Civil Asset Forfeiture

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Wednesday that state and local governments are not exempt from the Constitutional prohibition against imposing "excessive fines" on citizens, significantly constraining the ability of law enforcement to seize the property of criminal suspects.Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for eight of the nine justices, argued that state and local governments unconstrained by the Eighth Amendment's excessive-fines clause are likely to abuse their power."For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties," Ginsburg wrote. "Excessive fines...

U.S. high court buttresses constitutional ban on
U.S. high court buttresses constitutional ban on 'excessive fines'
  • US
  • 2019-02-20 15:40:13Z

The nine justices ruled unanimously in favor of an Indiana man named Tyson Timbs who argued that police violated his rights by seizing his $42,000 Land Rover vehicle after he was convicted as a heroin dealer. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, back on the bench for a second straight day after undergoing lung cancer surgery in December, wrote the court's opinion, which clarified the applicability of the "excessive fines" prohibition contained in the Constitution's Eighth Amendment. "For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.