On Friday, the U.S. Senate voted, 51-49, to end debate on the nomination of D.C. Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fifty Republicans and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted to proceed to a final vote on the nomination, while Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska sided with 48 members of the Democratic caucus in voting to continue debate on the nomination.
The move comes after the FBI completed a very narrow and highly limited investigation into Kavanaugh’s past, specifically allegations that, as a teenager, he had sexually assaulted a female acquaintance.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before the U.S. Senate last week, claiming that a drunken Kavanaugh, aided by a friend, cornered her in a bedroom and attempted to undress her while holding a hand over her mouth.
There were also questions raised about Kavanaugh’s truthfulness, including whether he misrepresented the nature of his alcohol use in high school and college — representations that were later challenged by former roommates and acquaintances.
Other senators expressed concerns that Kavanaugh may have lied during his previous confirmation hearings for a position on the D.C. Court of Appeals. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said that Kavanaugh was “not truthful” when he downplayed the fact that, when he was working for the George W. Bush White House, he had received stolen documents from a Republican Senate aide regarding Democrats’ planned questions for the confirmation hearings of some controversial Bush judicial nominees.
Kavanaugh’s nomination for a Supreme Court seat has been particularly concerning to LGBTQ groups, who worry not only about his judicial philosophy — he has historically taken a “strict constructionist” view of the Constitution — but about his role in promoting or pushing several anti-gay initiatives undertaken by the Bush White House.
Several questions about that role remain unanswered, in large part due to Republican efforts to conceal documents and emails from his years at the White House.
Lambda Legal, one of the groups that has been sounding the alarm over the threat that Kavanaugh may pose to LGBTQ rights should he be confirmed, offered a last-minute plea to senators to reject his nomination.
“We are deeply disappointed that a majority of Senators have agreed to advance Brett Kavanaugh to [a] final vote in the face of so many serious concerns and unanswered questions, but this fight is not over,” Sharon McGowan, the chief strategy officer and legal director of Lambda Legal, said in a statement. “We continue to hope that there will be other Senators who, like Senator Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota, will ask themselves what sending this type of devastating message to sexual violence survivors will do to the society they have taken an oath to serve.
“Lambda Legal continues to implore all Senators to listen to their consciences and vote ‘no’ when the final up-or-down vote occurs on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court,” added McGowan. “Every Senator must decide whether they will be able to look in the mirror every day after the final vote and know in their hearts that they have done what is right for the county.”
McGowan also urged Americans concerned about Kavanaugh’s views, truthfulness, or qualifications to continue calling their senators and urging a “no” vote.
“This nomination process has been tainted from the outset by the unprecedented effort to conceal this nominee’s record in order to thwart the kind of careful consideration and thoughtful deliberation that should precede any decision on a lifetime appointment, and certainly for an appointment to the highest court in the land,” McGowan said. “The FBI investigation called for last week was rushed and manipulated by political forces to ensure that it would do nothing more than provide a fig leaf for those Senators determined to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court no matter what.
“Sadly, the scorched earth tactics on display today and throughout this process have brought us to this moment of extreme peril to our democracy and our values,” she added. In their haste to weaponize the Supreme Court with right-wing ideologues, Republicans have diminished the Senate and have abandoned their constitutional duty to provide meaningful advice and consent.”