After weeks of wrenching debate, President Donald Trump stands on the edge of a major political victory, as the Senate on Saturday is expected to give narrow approval to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, elevating the federal appeals court judge following an acrimonious debate over his judicial philosophy, past political work, and allegations of sexual misconduct.
"Judge Kavanaugh is a nominee of the highest caliber," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, "a brilliant legal mind and an accomplished jurist with a proven devotion to the rule of law."
For McConnell, the final vote on Saturday afternoon comes after a brutal stretch of partisan warfare, as the GOP leader - who is often sternly criticized by more conservative Republicans - will have shepherded a nominee to victory despite intense scrutiny over his past.
"The stakes are always high for a Supreme Court nomination. But, colleagues, the extraordinary events of recent weeks have raised them even higher this time," McConnell said Friday on the Senate floor.
Kavanaugh's nomination was in limbo until Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) announced that she would support the President's pick, delivering victory to GOP leaders and the White House.
"Our Supreme Court confirmation process has been in steady decline for more than thirty years," Collins said on the Senate floor, as she decried the high pitched political battle. "One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom."
"We’ve heard a lot of charges and counter charges about Judge Kavanaugh," Collins said. But as those who have known him best have attested, he has been an exemplary public servant, judge, teacher, coach, husband, and father.
Minutes after Collins declared her support for Kavanaugh, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) made himself the 51st vote for confirmation, as demonstrators at times drowned out Manchin while he spoke to reporters outside of his office.
"I think everyone labored with this, everyone labored with this decision," Manchin said, as protesters chanted, "Shame on you!" in the background.
Ironically, the final two votes that pushed Kavanaugh over the top came from Manchin - a Democrat whom the President has targeted for defeat in the mid-term elections - and Collins, who is routinely disparaged by conservatives as a RINO (Republican in Name Only).
Democrats were left fuming, as they kept the Senate in session through the night with a parade of speeches, expressing their frustration with the Kavanaugh outcome.
"Judge Kavanaugh’s behavior revealed a hostility and belligerence that was unbecoming of someone seeking to be elevated to the United States Supreme Court," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
"From the beginning, this nomination process has been a sham," said Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), as Democrats again argued that not enough investigation had been done by the Senate or the FBI into the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
"I do believe Dr. Ford," said Sen. Angus King (I-ME).
"Judge Kavanaugh has a history of supporting an unchecked Presidency," said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), as Democrats also raised questions about whether Kavanaugh would stand up to President Trump on the bench.
"The disgrace of what has taken place with Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination will not be lost on the American people," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
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