WASHINGTON — A deeply divided Senate voted Saturday to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, delivering a victory to President Donald Trump and ending a rancorous Washington battle that began as a debate over ideology and jurisprudence and concluded with questions of sexual misconduct.
The vote, almost entirely along party lines, was 50-48, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska — the lone Republican to break with her party — voting “present” instead of “no” to accommodate a colleague who could not attend and would have voted “yes.” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was the lone Democrat to support Kavanaugh.
The final result was expected; all senators had announced their intentions by Friday, after the nomination cleared a crucial procedural hurdle in a 51-49 vote.
But while the brawl over Kavanaugh’s confirmation may be over, people on both sides of the debate agree that it will have lasting ramifications on the Senate, the Supreme Court and the nation.
As the senators entered their final hours of debate Saturday, hundreds of Kavanaugh opponents were massed on the steps of the Supreme Court. They later rushed the barricades around the Capitol and sat on its steps, chanting “No means no!” as Capitol Police officers began arresting them. Women and sexual assault survivors around the country were furious, feeling as if their voices had not been heard.
Inside the chamber, protests erupted as Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, delivered a speech deploring “mob rule” — a reference to the activists and sexual assault survivors who have roamed the Capitol in recent weeks, confronting Republican senators. “I stand with survivors!” one shouted. “This process is corrupt!”
Once confirmed, Kavanaugh will shift the ideological balance of the court to the right, giving it a solid conservative majority. He will replace the retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a moderate conservative who was its longtime swing vote, and at 53 he is young enough to serve for decades.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader, was unequivocal about what Republicans had accomplished.
“It is the most important contribution we have made to the country that will last the longest,” McConnell said in an interview.