Brett Kavanaugh poised to take supreme court seat after latest US senate vote


Brett Kavanaugh’s place on the US Supreme Court has been all but secured after the embattled federal judge narrowly cleared a crucial hurdle.

In a vote last night Kavanaugh was voted through by 51-49 and his nomination will now go through to a final floor vote.

The vote was swung when two senators, Susan Collins and Joe Manchin, announced their support for him.

Republican Ms Collins of Maine, and Democrat Mr Manchin of West Virginia both confirmed they will support Mr Kavanaugh, who is Donald Trump’s nominee.  

This follows a series of protests at the Capitol amidst accusations of sexual misconduct against Mr Kavanaugh – which he has strongly denied.

Speaking on Friday, Sen Collins said the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, one of Mr Kavanaugh’s accusers, was "sincere, painful and compelling".

Christine Blasey Ford spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee after accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual msiconduct (AP)

However, she said the FBI had found no corroborating evidence from witnesses whose names Dr Ford had provided.

Sen Collins said: “"We will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting though it may be.

Susan Collins said: 'We will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting though it may be' (REUTERS)

"We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy."

Following this 45 minute speech by Sen Collins, Sen Manchin used an emailed statement to announce his support for Mr Kavanaugh.

"My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life," he said.

But, based on the FBI report, he said: "I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him."

Protesters chanted "shame" at Sen Manchin later when he talked to reporters outside his office

Senator Joe Manchin has said he will back Brett Kavanaugh

Republicans control the Senate by a 51-49 margin.

Based on the public declarations made Mr Kavanaugh would receive at least 51 votes.

Assuming no one changes their stance to oppose him this would see Mr Kavanaugh through to a place on the court.

The final vote is to take place later tonight. 

Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a fellow moderate and a friend of Ms Collins, is the only Republican who has indicated she will vote no.

US comedian Amy Schumer and US actress Emily Ratajkowski are detained along with hundreds of other protesters campaigning against the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh

She told reporters that Mr Kavanaugh is "a good man" but maybe "not the right man for the court at this time".

When Mr Trump nominated Mr Kavanaugh in July, Democrats leapt to oppose him, saying that past statements and opinions showed he'd be a threat to the Roe v Wade case that assured the right to abortion.

They said he also seemed ready to rule for Mr Trump if federal authorities probing his 2016 campaign's alleged connections to Russia try to pursue him in court.

Amy Schumer at the protest (EPA)

Yet Mr Kavanaugh's pathway to confirmation seemed unfettered until Ms Ford accused him of drunkenly sexually assaulting her in a locked bedroom at a 1982 high school gathering.

Two other women later emerged with sexual misconduct allegations from the 1980s.

Mr Kavanaugh foes cast him as a product of a hard-drinking, male-dominated, private school culture in Washington's upscale Maryland suburb of Bethesda. He and his defenders asserted that his high school and college focus was on academics, sports and church.

Democrats also challenged Mr Kavanaugh's honesty, temperament and ability to be nonpartisan after he fumed at last week's Judiciary hearing that Democrats had launched a "search and destroy mission" against him fuelled by their hatred of Mr Trump.

Mr Kavanaugh would replace the retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was a swing vote on issues including abortion, campaign finance and same-sex marriage.

Mr Kavanaugh's selection has also been opposed by a string of A-listers who joined protests this week.

Amy Schumer joked on Instagram a day after she was  arrested while protesting Mr Kavanaugh's nomination.

The comedian and actress is said to have been detained alongside the model Emily Ratajkowski during demonstrations in Washington DC on Thursday.

Mr Kavanaugh, Donald Trump's nominee for a place on the highest court in the United States, is accused of sexual assault while in high school. He denies the allegations.

After his nomination cleared a key hurdle in the Senate on Friday, Schumer shared a picture of herself at the march on Instagram, along with the caption: "Anyone need a date to any Montana weddings tomorrow? I'm fun at a wedding."

Republican senator Steve Daines had earlier promised to walk his daughter down the aisle for her wedding in Montana in Saturday before flying back to Washington DC in case he is needed to secure Mr Kavanaugh's nomination during a final vote the same day.

London-born Ratajkowski, 27, confirmed she was arrested while protesting against the nomination of Kavanaugh.

She shared a photograph of herself in front of the US Capitol brandishing a sign reading "Respect female existence or expect our resistance".

She wrote on Twitter: "Today I was arrested protesting the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, a man who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault. Men who hurt women can no longer be placed in positions of power."

Schumer, 37, told CNN she too had been arrested.

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