Kavanaugh Sworn in As Supreme Court Justice
Brett Kavanaugh has been sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, a jurist who could give conservatives a solid 5-4 ideological edge on the country's highest court and shape rulings for decades.
Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to the 53-year-old Kavanaugh in a private ceremony just hours after the Senate voted 50-48 on Saturday to confirm his life-time nomination to fill the vacancy on the nine-member court.
Kavanaugh's nomination, one of the most contentious in U.S. history, had roiled Washington and the U.S. political scene for weeks, with Kavanaugh accused by a woman of sexually assaulting her when both were high school teenagers more than 30 years ago, allegations that in the end did not derail the appointment of the appellate court judge one level up to the high court.
The narrow Republican majority in the Senate nearly unanimously supported his appointment to become the country's 114th Supreme Court justice while all but one Democratic lawmaker opposed his nomination.
President Donald Trump, who now has won Senate approval for two appointments to the court, said on Twitter, "I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court…. Very exciting!"
On Saturday night, Trump portrayed his successful confirmation vote on Kavanaugh as a reason voters should elect Republicans in next month's nationwide congressional elections, when the political control of Congress is at stake.
"You don't hand matches to an arsonist, and you don't give power to an angry left-wing mob," he said. "Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern. Republicans believe in the rule of law – not the rule of the mob. VOTE REPUBLICAN!"
Kavanaugh replaces retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative jurist who often cast the deciding swing vote on ideologically divisive issues, upholding abortion and gay rights and the use of affirmative action aiding racial minorities in college admissions. But independent court analysts say Kavanaugh is likely to lean toward more conservative rulings, giving the court's four-member conservative bloc a 5-4 edge over the court's four liberals.
As the senators voted, protesters in the Senate gallery screamed, "I do not consent," and, "shame," forcing Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the chamber, to repeatedly call for order.
Kavanaugh denied the assault accusations made against him by Christine Blasey Ford, a university psychology professor who alleged that he attacked her at a suburban Washington house party when he was 17 and she was 15.
The Senate narrowly voted Friday to limit debate on Kavanaugh's nomination, advancing it to Saturday's final confirmation vote. Senators have been confronted by protesters who oppose the Kavanaugh nomination and police at the U.S. Capitol have arrested hundreds of demonstrators.
Another woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his time at Yale, Deborah Ramirez, said in a statement Saturday that the senators discussing the impending vote brought her back to the moment of the alleged misconduct.
"As I watch many of the Senators speak and vote on the floor of the Senate I feel like I'm right back at Yale where half the room is laughing and looking the other way. Only this time, instead of drunk college kids, it is U.S. Senators who are deliberately ignoring his behavior," Ramirez said. "This is how victims are isolated and silenced."
Shortly before the vote, Trump said Kavanaugh "will be a great justice of the Supreme Court."
"He's just an extraordinary person… and I think he's going to make us all very proud," Trump added.