Ka­vanaugh sworn in

Se­nate vote split 50-48, with one Demo­crat vot­ing for him

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Gary Martin

WASH­ING­TON — Judge Brett Ka­vanaugh was sworn in to be an as­so­ciate jus­tice on the U.S. Supreme Court on Sat­ur­day, end­ing a month­s­long bat­tle that laid bare the po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions of a po­lar­ized na­tion and a nom­i­na­tion stained by un­cor­rob­o­rated al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct.

Ka­vanaugh, 53, was con­firmed by the Se­nate by the nar­row­est of mar­gins, 50-48, with one Demo­crat break­ing ranks and vot­ing in sup­port of the em­bat­tled nom­i­nee and one Re­pub­li­can op­posed, but vot­ing “present” to al­low a col­league to travel to Mon­tana and at­tend his daugh­ter’s wed­ding.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., called the con­fir-

ma­tion “a good day for Amer­ica and an im­por­tant day for the Se­nate.”

“We stood up for the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence,” McCon­nell said.

Ka­vanaugh adamantly de­nies the sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions lev­eled against him.

Democrats were an­guished by the out­come. Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Amer­i­cans are “out­raged by what hap­pened here.”

“Judge Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion is a low mo­ment for the Se­nate, the court and the coun­try,” Schumer said.

The con­fir­ma­tion is a ma­jor vic­tory for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who now has ap­pointed two con­ser­va­tive jus­tices to the high court.

“I very much ap­pre­ci­ate those 50 great votes,” Trump told re­porters on Air Force One, “and I think he’s go­ing to go down as a to­tally bril­liant Supreme Court jus­tice for many years.”

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah San­ders said the pres­i­dent signed Ka­vanaugh’s com­mis­sion of ap­point­ment on Air Force One on Sat­ur­day, al­low­ing the ju­rist to be of­fi­cially sworn in as a Supreme Court jus­tice.

The Supreme Court said Chief Jus­tice John Roberts ad­min­is­tered the con­sti­tu­tional oath and re­tired As­so­ciate Jus­tice An­thony M. Kennedy ad­min­is­tered the ju­di­cial oath in a pri­vate cer­e­mony at the Supreme Court hours af­ter the Se­nate vote Sat­ur­day.

Ka­vanaugh is ex­pected to join the bench for oral ar­gu­ments on Tues­day. A for­mal in­vesti­ture cer­e­mony will take place at a spe­cial sit­ting of the court at a later date.

A tilt to the right

Trump nom­i­nated Ka­vanaugh on July 9 to re­place Kennedy, a swing vote on the court who sided with the lib­eral wing on so­cial is­sues such as gay mar­riage and abor­tion rights.

Ka­vanaugh, a judge on the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the Dis­trict of Columbia, has a 12-year record of con­ser­va­tive rul­ings and his el­e­va­tion to the high court is ex­pected to tilt the bench to the right for decades to come.

As a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Trump promised to ap­point anti-abor­tion jus­tices and called on the con­ser­va­tive Fed­er­al­ist So­ci­ety to pre­pare a list of can­di­dates. Ka­vanaugh was se­lected from that list, and his nom­i­na­tion im­me­di­ately drew op­po­si­tion from women’s groups and abor­tion rights ad­vo­cates.

That op­po­si­tion ex­ploded when it be­came pub­lic af­ter con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings that Chris­tine Blasey Ford had ac­cused Ka­vanaugh of a sex­ual as­sault that she said oc­curred in 1982, when both were teenagers at­tend­ing a party at a pri­vate home in an af­flu­ent Mary­land sub­urb of Wash­ing­ton.

Ford, a re­search psy­chol­o­gist at Palo Alto Univer­sity, tes­ti­fied un­der oath that she thought Ka­vanaugh was go­ing to rape her. She said Ka­vanaugh and a friend, Mark Judge, were drunk and laugh­ing dur­ing the ordeal, un­til she es­caped.

A Yale Univer­sity class­mate, Deb­o­rah Ramirez, then came for­ward and claimed a drunken Ka­vanaugh ex­posed him­self to her dur­ing a dorm party.

Ka­vanaugh de­nied the al­le­ga­tions in an an­gry ap­pear­ance be­fore the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee where he ac­cused Democrats on the panel of or­ches­trat­ing a “po­lit­i­cal hit” to scut­tle his nom­i­na­tion and bel­liger­ently mocked and threat­ened the sen­a­tors: “What goes around, comes around.”

A sup­ple­men­tal FBI back­ground check found no cor­rob­o­rat­ing ev­i­dence to sup­port the claims, a find­ing seized by Re­pub­li­cans to move for­ward with the con­fir­ma­tion vote. Democrats crit­i­cized the FBI re­port as a “white­wash” re­sult­ing from what they called an in­com­plete in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

De­mon­stra­tors swarm Capi­tol

Out­side the Capi­tol, as the Se­nate pre­pared to vote, hun­dreds of pro­test­ers chanted “We be­lieve sur­vivors” and called on law­mak­ers to re­ject the nom­i­na­tion. In­side the Capi­tol hall­ways, de­mon­stra­tors bad­gered sen­a­tors with cat­calls and an­gry name call­ing. Pro­test­ers were es­corted from the Se­nate gallery when they shouted dur­ing speeches by law­mak­ers.

The Se­nate voted mostly along party lines. Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion was as­sured when Sen. Su­san Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the last two un­de­cided sen­a­tors, an­nounced Fri­day their in­tent to vote for the nom­i­nee. Manchin was the only Demo­crat to vote for Ka­vanaugh.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, was the only Re­pub­li­can to op­pose the nom­i­na­tion. She said Ka­vanaugh was not “the right man” for the life­time ap­point­ment. She cited his an­gry out­burst at the com­mit­tee, not­ing he may lack the ju­di­cial tem­per­a­ment that is needed to serve on the court.

But Murkowski voted “present” so that Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., could miss the Se­nate vote and at­tend his daugh­ter’s wed­ding in the Big Sky State. Daines sup­ported the nom­i­na­tion.

Ne­vada’s two sen­a­tors voted along party lines. Re­pub­li­can Dean Heller voted to con­firm Ka­vanaugh and Demo­crat Cather­ine Cortez Masto voted to re­ject the nom­i­na­tion.

In a Se­nate floor speech, Cortez Masto said Ka­vanaugh’s “ex­treme, ac­tivist ju­di­cial phi­los­o­phy will pose a threat to women, our en­vi­ron­ment, our con­sti­tu­tional sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers and our fun­da­men­tal civil rights.”

Af­ter the vote, Cortez Masto, in a state­ment, said she was “pro­foundly dis­ap­pointed.”

“I have no con­fi­dence that Judge Brett Ka­vanaugh will ap­proach cases with the im­par­tial­ity and res­traint re­quired of a Supreme Court jus­tice,” she said.

Heller has cham­pi­oned Ka­vanaugh’s lengthy ju­di­cial record and an­nounced his sup­port af­ter meet­ing with the nom­i­nee at the sen­a­tor’s of­fice in July.

“His le­gal ca­reer com­bined with his ed­u­ca­tional cre­den­tials make him an ex­cep­tion­ally qual­i­fied nom­i­nee,” Heller said af­ter the vote.

Midterm elec­tions

The con­fir­ma­tion vote comes one month be­fore the midterm elec­tion in which House and Se­nate con­trol are in play.

“It’s turned our base on fire,” McCon­nell said of the fight over Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion.

Democrats hope that the vote will do the op­po­site, prompt­ing in­fu­ri­ated women and lib­er­als to oust Re­pub­li­cans.

“Change must come from where change in Amer­ica al­ways be­gins: the bal­lot box,” Schumer said.

Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion has al­ready be­come an is­sue in the Ne­vada Se­nate race, where Heller is seek­ing re-elec­tion against a chal­lenge by Demo­crat Rep. Jacky Rosen, a fresh­man law­maker from Hen­der­son.

Rosen called Heller a rub­ber stamp for Trump’s reck­less agenda and crit­i­cized him for call­ing the sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tions against Ka­vanaugh “a lit­tle hic­cup” in the process. Rosen said she was op­posed to Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion.

Fred Schilling Col­lec­tion of the Supreme Court of the United States

Chief Jus­tice John Roberts, right, ad­min­is­ters the con­sti­tu­tional oath to Brett Ka­vanaugh in the Jus­tices’ Con­fer­ence Room at the Supreme Court. Ash­ley Ka­vanaugh holds the Bi­ble as daugh­ters Mar­garet, left, and Liza lis­ten.

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