Brett Kavanaugh has been sworn in as a US Supreme Court justice, hours after the Senate narrowly confirmed his appointment following a battle that rubbed raw the country's cultural, gender and political divides.
By a vote of 50-48, the Senate gave a lifetime job to Kavanaugh, 53, after weeks of fierce debate over sexual violence, privilege and alcohol abuse that convulsed the nation just weeks before congressional elections on November 6.
"The sergeant-at-arms will restore order in the gallery", the presiding officer, Vice President Mike Pence, said several times. Protesters confronted a man with a cutout of President Donald Trump who was in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation; one attempted to rip the cutout's head off, KTVB reported.
They led to a dramatic day of testimony on September 27, when Christine Blasey Ford emotionally recounted her memory of Kavanaugh allegedly assaulting her at a party when both were high-schoolers in the suburbs of Washington, DC.
'Vote them out!' was the most common chant, directed at every Republican who sided with Trump despite a heartfelt sexual assault claim from a woman who claims a 17-year-old Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her at a 1982 party, when she was 15.
Joe Manchin (D) was the only Democrat who voted to support him, a decision he announced only after it was clear he would not be the deciding vote.
For now, many men apparently agree with Trump's warning that the surge in women speaking out against sexual violence in the #MeToo era has created "a very scary time" for men in America.
It reflects a high water mark of the Trump presidency: Republican control of the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the judiciary's top court. He received a slew of criticism for his tone, including retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who labeled Kavanaugh unfit for the nation's highest court. Neither Ford nor Kavanaugh appeared.
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The struggle over Kavanaugh's nomination reflected the stakes. The cloture numbers suggested that the majority of votes would fall directly along party lines; in this respect, they did not disappoint.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh leaves his home after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate October 06, 2018, in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
"We must fight to preserve and protect the critical and fundamental American judicial principle of the presumption of innocence for all Americans, both guilty and innocent, both accused and accusers and regardless of sex, race, or economic status". That balanced out the absence without affecting the outcome, and gave Kavanaugh the same two-vote margin he'd have received had both lawmakers voted. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is opposed, but says she will vote "present" as a courtesy to another Republican who will be absent for his daughter's wedding. "I would say if we're talking about the Supreme Court and Judge Kavanaugh, I think he's highly qualified for the Supreme Court", Mrs. Trump said while speaking to reporters in Egypt during a solo global trip to Africa. Ford testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teens.
There were shouts of "shame" from the public gallery as he voted yes.
Diane Russell, a Democratic activist, said Collins voted to "betray ME women and ME survivors" by ignoring their stories.
Hundreds of protesters against Kavanaugh had gathered on Saturday on the grounds of the Capitol and at the Supreme Court.
During the past two weeks, dozens of people who have known him came forward to support one version of Kavanaugh or the other. Ford had been asking for an Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry into Kavanaugh since she came forward with her allegations.
The attorneys also again addressed controversy over Ford's supposed reluctance to let the Judiciary Committee interview her in California.
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