Af­ter fight that split U.S., Ka­vanaugh wins place on Supreme Court

Stabroek News Sunday - - WORLD NEWS -

WASH­ING­TON, (Reuters) - A deeply di­vided U.S. Se­nate yes­ter­day con­firmed Brett Ka­vanaugh to the Supreme Court, as Re­pub­li­cans dis­missed ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct against the con­ser­va­tive judge and de­liv­ered a ma­jor vic­tory to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

By a vote of 50-48, the Se­nate gave a life­time job to Ka­vanaugh, 53, af­ter weeks of fierce de­bate over sex­ual vi­o­lence, priv­i­lege and al­co­hol abuse that con­vulsed the na­tion just weeks be­fore con­gres­sional elec­tions on Novem­ber 6.

The Se­nate vote takes the high­est U.S. court down a more con­ser­va­tive path, per­haps for many years, and is a bit­ter blow to Democrats al­ready chaf­ing at Re­pub­li­can con­trol of the White House and both cham­bers of the U.S. Congress.

Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion gives con­ser­va­tives a 5-4 ma­jor­ity in any fu­ture le­gal bat­tles on con­tentious is­sues such as abor­tion rights, im­mi­gra­tion, trans­gen­der rights, in­dus­try reg­u­la­tion, and pres­i­den­tial pow­ers.

He was sworn in al­most im­me­di­ately yes­ter­day by Chief Jus­tice John Roberts.

Adding to the day’s drama, women pro­test­ers in the Se­nate gallery shout­ing, “Shame on you!” briefly in­ter­rupted the con­fir­ma­tion vote.

An­other group of pro­test­ers stormed to­ward the doors of the nearby Supreme Court build­ing with raised fists. Po­lice stood guard at the doors.

Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion be­came an in­tense per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal drama when univer­sity pro­fes­sor Chris­tine Blasey Ford ac­cused him of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing her in the up­stairs bed­room of a home in a wealthy sub­urb of Wash­ing­ton in 1982.

Two other women ac­cused him in the me­dia of sex­ual mis­con­duct in the 1980s.

Ka­vanaugh fought back against the ac­cu­sa­tions, deny­ing them in an­gry and tear­ful tes­ti­mony be­fore the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee that was viewed live on tele­vi­sion by around 20 mil­lion peo­ple.

Trump said yes­ter­day he was “100 per­cent” cer­tain that Ford named the wrong per­son when she ac­cused Ka­vanaugh.

Speak­ing to re­porters aboard Air Force One while fly­ing to a cam­paign rally in Kan­sas, Trump said of Ka­vanaugh: “We’re very hon­ored that he was able to with­stand this hor­ri­ble, hor­ri­ble at­tack by the Democrats.”

Trump watched the con­fir­ma­tion vote on a large­screen tele­vi­sion tuned to Fox News in a wood-pan­eled cabin on the plane. He flashed two thumbs up when the fi­nal vote was de­clared and aides on board ap­plauded.

Trump is seek­ing a legacy as the pres­i­dent who put a strongly con­ser­va­tive stamp on the court. He stood by Ka­vanaugh, a fed­eral ap­peals court judge with a his­tory of ad­vanc­ing Re­pub­li­can causes.

This week, Trump mocked Ford’s ac­count of what she says was a drunken at­tack on her by Ka­vanaugh when they were teenagers.

WOMEN PROTESTS

Hun­dreds of pro­test­ers against Ka­vanaugh gathered on the grounds of the Capi­tol and at the Supreme Court. A to­tal of 164 peo­ple were ar­rested in the protests, U.S. Capi­tol Po­lice said.

Sen­a­tor Dianne Fe­in­stein, the se­nior Demo­crat on the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, said on Twit­ter: “Con­firm­ing Brett Ka­vanaugh in the face of cred­i­ble al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault that were not thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated, and his bel­liger­ent, par­ti­san per­for­mance...un­der­mines the le­git­i­macy of the Supreme Court.”

A town­house near the Wash­ing­ton res­i­dence of Re­pub­li­can Sen­a­tor Su­san Collins, whose back­ing for Ka­vanaugh helped get him over the line yes­ter­day, flew the flag of her home state Maine up­side down in protest.

The con­fir­ma­tion al­lows Trump to hit the cam­paign trail ahead of the con­gres­sional elec­tions say­ing that he has kept his 2016 prom­ise to mold a more con­ser­va­tive Amer­i­can ju­di­ciary.

Democrats said Ka­vanaugh’s par­ti­san de­fense of him­self, in which he said he was vic­tim of a “po­lit­i­cal hit,” was enough it­self to dis­qual­ify him from the court.

Re­peat­edly dur­ing the Se­nate de­bate, Re­pub­li­cans ac­cused Democrats of stag­ing a smear cam­paign against Ka­vanaugh to pre­vent a con­ser­va­tive be­com­ing a Supreme Court jus­tice.

Ac­cu­sa­tions against Ka­vanaugh en­er­gised the #Me­Too so­cial me­dia move­ment that emerged af­ter high-pro­file ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual as­sault and ha­rass­ment by men in pol­i­tics, the me­dia and the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.

Fur­ther­more, the dis­pute over Ka­vanaugh has added fuel to cam­paign­ing for the elec­tions in Novem­ber when Democrats will try to take con­trol of Congress from the Re­pub­li­cans.

Sev­eral polls show that Re­pub­li­can en­thu­si­asm about vot­ing, which had lagged be­hind, jumped af­ter the Ka­vanaugh hear­ing last week.

Se­nate Re­pub­li­can leader Mitch McCon­nell told Reuters that the po­lit­i­cal brawl over Ka­vanaugh will help Re­pub­li­cans at the elec­tions.

“Noth­ing uni­fies Re­pub­li­cans like a court fight,” McCon­nell said in an in­ter­view ahead of the vote. “It’s been a sem­i­nal event lead­ing into the fall elec­tion.”

But Democrats hope women an­gered at the Ka­vanaugh ac­cu­sa­tions will turn out in large num­bers to vote out Re­pub­li­cans.

Dur­ing yes­ter­day’s vote, sen­a­tors were show­ered with cries of “We will not for­get,” and “Sur­vivors vote” from pro­test­ers in the Se­nate gallery.

Brett Ka­vanaugh

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