Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Assured With Support Of Collins And Manchin

With the support of two holdout Senators, the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh now appears to be all but official.

Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to become the 114th Justice of the Supreme Court took a big step forward this afternoon with the announcement by the final two Senators who had remained silent on their intentions announcing that they will vote “yes” on the final vote currently scheduled to take place late tomorrow afternoon:

WASHINGTON — Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh appeared destined for final confirmation to the Supreme Court after two key undecided senators — Susan Collins of Maine and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia — announced Friday that they would support his elevation to the high court after the most divisive confirmation fight in decades.

Ms. Collins’ lengthy speech on the Senate floor dwelled as much on Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record as on the sexual misconduct charges that have consumed his nomination. She did conclude, “We will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence.”

“The Me Too movement is real. It matters. It is needed, and it is long overdue,” she said, arguing that her support for Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation does not negate the claims of sexual assault that have flooded forward in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against the nominee. But she said she was not convinced of Judge Kavanaugh’s guilt.

“I found her testimony to be sincere, painful and compelling. I believe that she is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life. Nevertheless, the four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events,” Ms. Collins said.

Mr. Manchin, a Democrat, immediately followed with a statement proclaiming his support.

“I have reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing,” he wrote. “And my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life. However, based on all of the information I have available to me, including the recently completed F.B.I. report, I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist.”

Those decisions came after a dramatic 51-49 procedural vote to limit debate on the nomination — the next-to-last step in the tumultuous Supreme Court confirmation process. A final confirmation vote could come as early as Saturday.

In the end, the decision of these two Senators to support Kavanaugh’s confirmation doesn’t come as a surprise. Senator Collins was a focus of speculation from the beginning due to the fact that she is pro-choice on abortion and has said in the past that she would not support a nominee who would be likely to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. CaseyBecause of that, there was much drama surrounding her initial meetings with Judge Kavanaugh in the weeks after his nomination. While Collins did not commit herself one way or another on the nomination, she did say after those meetings that Kavanaugh had assured her that Roe and Casey were “settled law,” an answer that was largely evasive but appeared to be sufficient to satisfy any doubts Collins may have had about his nomination. Indeed, had the allegations against Kavanaugh not come forward, the presumption was that Collins would vote to confirm the Judge when the final vote came. In making this announcement today, Collins is basically just fulfilling that prophecy and essentially acting as if the allegations made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, as well as Judge Kavanaugh’s unjudicial hyperpartisanship don’t matter to her.

Senator Manchin’s decision is similarly unsurprising. Notwithstanding the fact that he is a Democrat and currently has a seemingly insurmountable lead in his bid for re-election, he is running in a state that President Trump won by over 300,000 votes just two years ago. Additionally, polling in West Virginia has shown that voters strongly support Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Taking that into account, it has been assumed from the beginning that Manchin would end up voting in favor of Kavanaugh in end. Again, the allegations made by Dr. Blasey Ford and the other women, as well as Kavanaugh’s response to those charges, hardly seemed to matter to Senator Manchin in the end.

With the support of these final two Senators, and assuming that Lisa Murkowski remains a “no” vote as she was on the Motion to Proceed earlier today, then the final vote for Gorsuch’s confirmation will most likely be 50-49, with one Senator, Steve Daines of Montana, being out of town for his daughter’s wedding. If Senator McConnell chooses to leave the vote open to allow Daines to case a vote on the record, then the final vote will be 51-49. Whichever it is, this appears to be the closest vote on a Supreme Court nominee that we’ve ever seen based on my quick review of the available records. Before this, the closest was the 52-48 vote in 1991 that put Justice Clarence Thomas on the Court even in the wake of the accusations made against him by Law Professor Anita Hill. At the very least, this, along with the circumstances that have surrounded his confirmation that include not just the accusations against him but the inappropriately hyperpartisan manner in which he responded to them during his interview on Fox News Channel and his response last Thursday, all but guarantees that Justice Kavanaugh will enter the Court under a cloud and under scrutiny. Notwithstanding that, though, his vote will count as much as his eight fellow Justices, and his presence on the Court will have repercussions for decades to come.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Congress, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, Supreme Court, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. HelloWorld! says:

    Collins did what Collins does: pretends to be the critical swing vote to raise money, and then votes with her party. Fools them every time. Clearly, by the look on her face and her long droning speech, she loves the pageantry, too.

    …and mark my words, Manchin just lost his own re-election. He miscalculated this one (good).

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  2. Grewgills says:

    We will have another Clarence Thomas on the SC. He will not sway anyone, but he will be a reliable vote for the partisan right wing of the court for decades. Every vote me makes will be questionable, but there will be no question how he votes. The court is diminished. It is a sad day.

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  3. Ben Wolf says:

    Mr. Manchin, a Democrat, immediately followed with a statement proclaiming his support.

    But Bernie isn’t even a Democrat.

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  4. Raoul says:

    My key observation: Dr. Ford came with by all accounts was a very credible allegation; Judge Kavanaugh on the other hand screamed, lied and insulted so much that he had to apologize. So of course republicans support him. Nothing else needs to be said.

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  5. MBunge says:

    the inappropriately hyperpartisan manner

    The man was accused of being involved in the DRUGGING AND GANG RAPING OF TEENAGE GIRLS. He’s a 53-year-old man and people were attacking him based on inside jokes in his HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK. And let’s not forget that and a whole lot more was done WITHOUT A SINGLE PIECE OF CORROBORATING EVIDENCE FOR ANY ALLEGATION AGAINST HIM. Where’s your concern about the inappropriateness of any of that?

    Mike

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  6. An Interested Party says:

    Gods forbid anyone challenge your narrow minded world view.

    Especially a woman.

    Oh that’s quite rich coming from someone who supports men who have sexually assaulted women…nice…

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  7. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MBunge:

    Where’s your concern about perjury?

    Oh, I forgot. You don’t care about that.

    Today is honestly the day I fell out of love with America. The Bungies of the world have it now, and they’ll only destroy it in the end. SCOTUS was the last thing left that they hadn’t contaminated with their foulness, and now it’s lost as well. The country is beyond saving. It’s beyond being saved.

    This honestly made the decision to renounce for me. I’ll be doing that on Monday. There’s nothing left there to love.

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  8. Guarneri says:

    They don’t agree with me, so they must not care about Ford.

    Now there’s a tight argument. Some things make you laugh, some make you belly laugh.

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  9. Guarneri says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Boo-hoo. You moving to New Zealand with Reynolds? Oh, that’s right, idle threats.

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  10. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Today is honestly the day I fell out of love with America. The Bungies of the world have it now, and they’ll only destroy it in the end. SCOTUS was the last thing left that they hadn’t contaminated with their foulness, and now it’s lost as well. The country is beyond saving. It’s beyond being saved.

    Strike 1 – Nixon’s southern strategy

    Strike 2 – Citizen’s United decision.

    Strike 3 – Ignorance and selfishness as “values”

    National Populism is ugly. And never ends well.

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  11. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Guarneri:

    I moved to Paris over a year ago. I guess you didn’t get the memo down there in mom’s basement.

    Not idle. I just couldn’t abide the stench any longer. It was time to go.

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  12. george says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    If someone can love America despite it stealing the continent from the indigenous people and slavery, then its odd that Kavanaugh’s appointment, as bad as it is, would change that feeling. Even in recent times, the Vietnam and Iraq wars come to mind as far more horrible.

    You’re obviously quite intelligent and well educated, so you must know American history. Why does this particularly stand out for you?

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  13. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @george:

    I’m not in the mood for your smoke filled coffee house debates about angels and pin heads, George. No offense, but seek joy elsewhere.

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  14. Hal_10000 says:

    Note that Collins specifically cited Avenatti as one of the things that pushed her toward supporting BK. I know a lot of Republicans/Trump supporters and while the Ford allegation gave them pause, the Avenatti thing made them unpause.

    I tried to warn you that he was a disaster in the making and that nothing good would come of him.

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  15. Eric Florack says:

    @TM01:

    It just comes down to this. Search churches should be taken seriously. There’s no question. However, when the first response to a sexual assault is 36 years later, and then the response is not directed at law enforcement what is directed to a Democrat Senator at a politically opportune time, and the accuser is well connected in Democrat circles as well as in the Deep state, most realistic human beings reserve the right to be skeptical….

    and by the way, if you’re going to tell us that a woman should always be believed, I point you to the nearest picture of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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  16. Scott F. says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Collins was going to find someone else to blame to deflect from her casual dismissal of Dr. Ford. Avenatti was a convenient excuse, but she would have found something else. Same as all the other so-called fence sitters.

    If easily proven perjury (and not just from BK’s testimony last week, but from Leahy’s evidence against earlier testimony) isn’t enough to deny a partisan his seat on SCOTUS, then no amount of delicacy & civility in opposition tactics is going to matter in the slightest.

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  17. al Ameda says:

    @TM01:
    to be fair, Collins apparently discounted Judge Kavanaugh’s ‘hyperpartisanship’ as exhibited in his Thursday address.

    You may discount my opinion, I get that. But consider that someone as esteemed as retired Justice John Paul Stevens said that this factor causes him to believe that, while Kavanaugh is a fine appellate court judge, those remarks showed his temperament to be lacking, and therefore should not be confirmed to the Court.

    I’m with Justice Stevens on this.

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  18. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Grewgills:

    What you will see next is an avalanche of anti-abortion laws being introduced in state legislatures all over the country, in a transparent gambit to get abortion back in front of SCOTUS. These people have been anything but opaque about their intentions, and they’re about to get a court skewed in their favor.

    If anybody thinks Roe is safe in this environment, they’re a fool.

    And that will just be the beginning.

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  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Hal_10000: Are you trying to compete with Pearce now?

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  20. TM01 says:

    @al Ameda:
    John Paul Stevens also wants to repeal the second amendment. He has no more credibility.

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  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott F.: Shorter Hal: I’m fine with Kavanaugh, but he’s seedy looking and I need cover. Where to look… aha! Avenatti! Yeah, that’s the ticket! Avenatti.

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  22. dennis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “. . . the final vote for Gorsuch’s confirmation will most likely be 50-49 . . .”

    Um, Doug, you’re either trolling us to see if we’re reading the entire post, or you mixed up the cut-and-paste.

    Anyway, my fine OTB denizens, with no intent to offend, this whole fiasco is for good white folks to fix. Y’all still hold the majority, and I’m convinced that more of you are better human beings than the Floracks and MBunges out there. Don’t let the news stories fool you: white peeps aren’t down and out yet demographically, and the rest of us (as we always have) are counting on y’all to straighten out this mess.

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  23. MBunge says:

    In some ways, this pretty much sums up the whole Kavanaugh thing and why Democrats lost.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/aggression-and-the-meaning-of-kavanaughs-victory

    There’s a whole bunch of nonsense, of course, like Josh Marshall talking about Trump and Republicans as “norm-breakers” after what we all just saw his side do for the last two weeks, but he does nail it when he writes about Kavanaugh saving his nomination by adopting the aggression of Donald Trump as his own. But he fails to ponder the obvious follow-up question: Why?

    Kavanaugh isn’t a Trump guy. He’s not a Breitbart guy. He’s not a talk radio/Fox News guy. Neither is Chuck Grassley or Orrin Hatch or Lindsey Graham. But something happened to turn those four men, whom right-wingers would have largely derided as milquetoast RINOs just a month ago, into bare-knuckle partisan brawlers. And Josh Marshall is not only completely clueless about why, he doesn’t even notice that it happened.

    He writes as though Lindsey Graham has always been a rhetorical flamethrower, as if Chuck Grassley has always been some intransigent hardass, and like Brett Kavanaugh arrived in Washington from Fight Club instead of the Federalist Society. And Marshall writes that way because he genuinely doesn’t understand what he and his side is doing. He saw entirely baseless and insane allegations of gang rape thrown at Brett Kavanaugh and didn’t comprehend that it had nothing to do with #metoo or sexual assault or women or perjury or anything.

    It was about power. It was about his side using the cultural power it possesses to try and overcome the political power held by Republicans. It was about creating a moral panic and relying on the GOP to either flee from it or give into it. And if someone like Jeb Bush were in the White House, it probably would have worked. But when Josh Marshall and his ilk started calling Brett Kavanaugh a rapist and launched a witch hunt over his teenage drinking habits, the judge had a different example to follow.

    The most important and essential point, however, is that Kavanaugh couldn’t have adopted Trump’s aggression if the Josh Marshalls of our world hadn’t lost their damn minds and overplayed their hands. As others have pointed out, if this fight had solely been about Dr. Ford’s allegation, Democrats might have won. You could have made it about the appearance of impropriety, allowing Judge Kavanaugh to withdraw and largely maintain, if not enhance, his reputation. If the only thing at issue had been Dr. Ford’s allegation, there’s no way either Kavanaugh or Graham could have pulled off what they did at the hearing because their anger and rage could only have had one target.

    Donald Trump is the President because Democrats nominated Hillary Clinton. And Brett Kavanaugh is going to be a Supreme Court Justice because Democrats tried to destroy him with a grotesque campaign of defamation and character assassination unlike anything any of us have ever seen. And just as Democrats didn’t understand why they nominated Hillary, Josh Marshall and company don’t understand why they needed to annihilate Brett Kavanaugh.

    Donald Trump loves to play dominance games…but he always knows the game and why he’s playing it.

    Mike

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  24. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Abortion will be the very least of the worries.

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  25. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I suspect that abortion will remain legal in all 50 states — with a fair number of expensive and time consuming hurdles in some.

    The Republicans want to keep on pushing the “We need one more vote on the court, so send money now” while avoiding the backlash that would happen if middle class women didn’t have access to abortion.

    Overturning Roe v. Wade would give Democrats the reason to pack the court when they have the Presidency and the Senate (2021, is my guess)

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  26. Yank says:

    Collins was going to find someone else to blame to deflect from her casual dismissal of Dr. Ford. Avenatti was a convenient excuse, but she would have found something else. Same as all the other so-called fence sitters.

    Yeah.

    Republicans always do this when they are about to make a morally reprehensible decision. Avenatti is terrible, but these people were going to get to “yes” one way or another.

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  27. An Interested Party says:

    @Mbunge: You disingenuous toady…

    -Republicans have become norm-breakers, with their treatment of Merrick Garland, among many other things
    -Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee may be labeled milquetoast RINOs by right-wingers, but that doesn’t take away from the fact they those senators have become nothing more than Trump lackeys
    -the dual performances of Kavanaugh and Graham were for an audience of one in the White House, I’m sure he ate up their “anger and rage”
    -that one target was so obviously treated in a condescending manner, Republicans knew they couldn’t get away with attacking her directly so they turned their fire towards another woman, Dianne Feinstein
    -Kavanaugh is going to the Supreme Court because Republicans have a majority in the Senate
    -your endless obsequiousness towards your hero is pathetic and rank, if you had any self-respect or dignity, you would at least tone it down a bit, but since you have neither of those things, you continue to embarrass yourself…when your hero finally does fall, whatever will you do with yourself…

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  28. Eric Florack says:

    Reynolds, earlier:

    But that was the reason to pick him (Kavanaugh). Trump knew he’d been vetted enough that there would be no real skeletons, and he no doubt expected that the Democrats would be so desperate they’d invent some. They would have done that with anyone he put up — but, precisely because Kavanaugh was a milquetoasty DC Establishment type, seeing the Democrats go into full bat$#!+ assault mode on him galvanized the other milquetoasty DC Establishment types. You could see the lightbulbs go off in their heads: The Democrats don’t hate Trump because he’s Trump. They hate all Republicans and want to ruin them. Even me! And they always will.

    The result is that the Kavanaugh affair has welded the Trump and NeverTrump forces (except for a few sad outliers who don’t matter) into a solid force. And it’s simultaneously galvanized GOP voters around the country, closing the “enthusiasm gap,” as the normals become more militant.Plus, it seems that minority voters aren’t as excited about empowering neurotic upper-class white feminists as you might — well, actually, I guess they’re just about exactly as excited about empowering neurotic upper-class white feminists as you might expect, but it seems Dems didn’t give that much thought. So Kavanaugh was, in fact, the perfect pick to trigger this reaction.

    it was a fairly easy prediction for Trump to make. After all the Democrats have Decades of history of pulling this garbage. all Trump had to do was make the pick and sit back and watch the Nickelodeon.

    I wonder if the Democrats even begin to understand the level of damage they succeeded causing themselves over all this. Even their own rank-and-file is walking away from them. To say nothing of Independents… meanwhile the conservative base is riled in a way I haven’t seen them in Generations.

    Congratulations Democrat party. You’ve already lost the midterms and you’ve got nobody to blame but yourselves.

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  29. Eric Florack says:

    As for the comments I see here about Lindsey Graham, I think I said it best this morning….

    Just about everybody on one blog or another has commented on the amount of Fire coming out of people who have heretofore been nearly silent on the Republican side. Grassley, McConnell, Graham, and so on. These are people who you would normally expect to keep their silence, or at the least trying to placate the Democrats by playing along with them. No longer. I have attributed a lot of what we’re seeing out of these people to a lack of a John McCain. But I begin to wonder if a lot of it isn’t finally a bit of light seeping through the heads of the establishment hierarchy….The understanding that the rank-and-file are truly motivated and members of The Establishment had better start swimming if they want to survive the oncoming wave.

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  30. Eric Florack says:

    @An Interested Party: so you’re saying the Democrats weren’t arguing at the end of the Bush Administration that’s a lame duck president shouldn’t be making Supreme Court nominations?

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  31. Eric Florack says:

    @HarvardLaw92: perjury? You mean the perjury that the Democrats were suborning?

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  32. wr says:

    @MBunge: “Donald Trump is the President because Democrats nominated Hillary Clinton.”

    You keep playing this card and it never gets more believable. Trump is president because you and people like you voted for him. That’s where the responsibility begins and ends. You. You. You.

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  33. Ben Wolf says:

    @TM01: Which is exactly why you, your radical-statist buddies and the Democrats are part of the same intellectual strain. You all want to use the Supreme Court to control the country undemocratically.

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  34. Ben Wolf says:

    @george: He’s not educated. He’s trained. What to think, where to think, when to think, how to think. What’s a little injun blood when you’ve got the Vineyard?

    These people are fine with Donald Trump’s policies because they’re trained to be barbarians. They can’t stand his behavior because they’re trained to conflate civil behavior with goodness. Blow up a bus full of children and they reach for the shitty chardonnay they can’t tell from a riesling. Make fun of a disabled man and they see Super Hitler.

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  35. Eric Florack says:

    @Ben Wolf: I can’t even begin

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  36. Eric Florack says:

    @wr: if you look at the exit polling, you may notice that the Democrat rank-and-file wasn’t too excited about Hillary Clinton. Certainly, they weren’t too excited about voting for her.

    He’s right.
    The Democrats chose poorly.

    And the thing is even the GOP establishment didn’t understand how bad a choice she was.

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  37. MarkedMan says:

    For years now, the Republican Party has been the Party of lies, so the fact that Kavanaugh is a liar is not reason to vote against. But the Repubs are also fixated on fighting the social battles of the past. Do Republicans actually look at what it would take to improve schools? Of course not. All of their legislative might is focused on bathrooms and school prayer. Do they spent any political capital on building infrastructure? Of course not. It’s all about protecting segregation era statues. Republicans don’t govern, they stick their finger in the eye of people they don’t like. Kavanaugh will be more of that for the next 40 years or more.

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  38. Ben Wolf says:

    @Eric Florack: I know.

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  39. george says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    None taken. I’m glad your experience of America has been trouble free until now.

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  40. HelloWorld! says:

    @MBunge: I’m sorry, but I don’t understand that. Graham has always been a political flamethrower, but went through a period where he seemed to be turning into a statesman, but that seems to have gone away. Grassley and Hatch, career partisans.

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  41. george says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Trump is a disaster. But ask any minority, he’s not the first or biggest disaster in American history.

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  42. Franklin says:

    @MBunge:

    He’s a 53-year-old man and people were attacking him based on inside jokes in his HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK.

    You know that’s not why they were attacking him. They were attacking him because he perjured himself about that and 10 other things.

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  43. Franklin says:

    @Eric Florack: Hey, you still around to peddle the false links between Ford and Strzok? Nice to hear from your lying lips again.

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  44. Eric Florack says:

    @Franklin: I know you’d like to think they were false. But then I suppose think is probably too strong a word for you

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  45. Todd says:

    Nothing was terribly surprising about the outcome of this vote.

    The only semi-interesting subplot will be to watch what happens with the polling on Heitkamp and Manchin. One was authentic and brave, one was a cowardly politician. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Heitkamp comes back to win and Manchin’s lead evaporates to the point where he is no longer the Senator from West Virginia come next January?

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  46. Todd says:

    Another thought …

    Unless something really crazy happens in the next couple of hours, it looks like conservatives have finally achieved their goal of a reliably right-wing court. But it may be a Pyrrhic victory.

    If the majority of the country is likely to view some (especially 5-4) decision as illegitimate (due to how this majority was gained .. first denying Garland, now ramming through Kavanaugh) those decision are likely to not carry quite the same weight as many of the historic decisions of the past.

    If the rule of of law doesn’t matter during the process of winning the court, how can the rule of law be invoked as a reason for honoring such a court’s most controversial decisions?

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  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @dennis: Hmm… as one of the “good white folks” out here, I’m no longer so sure. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

    (or were you just being ironic? 😉 )

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  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Eric Florack: You seem to misunderstand “suborning.” The Democrats can’t suborn perjury on the part of Kavanaugh–he’s not their client.

    Or are you doing “the Dems and GOP are all in cahoots” ala Huey Long?

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  49. dennis says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    No, I wasn’t; I was, and still am, very serious about that. The most intense fight for rights parity in the U.S. is between white racist nationalists and white folk opposing them. Because white racist nationalists don’t take minority plight seriously.

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  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @dennis: Thank you for your response. I wish you well in your hopes about “good white folk” but beyond that, the best that I can do is keep trying to be one.

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  51. An Interested Party says:

    so you’re saying the Democrats weren’t arguing at the end of the Bush Administration that’s a lame duck president shouldn’t be making Supreme Court nominations?

    Show me when Democrats ever did to a Republican president what Republicans did to Obama regarding Merrick Garland…

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  52. One American says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Aloha!

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  53. One American says:

    @HarvardLaw92: pay for your own abortion.

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  54. One American says:

    @wr: President Trump is doing a great job. All thanks to Barry and Hillary

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  55. Grewgills says:

    @One American
    Please stop pretending you live here.

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