Kavanaugh Nomination Passes Procedural Test, Final Outcome Still Uncertain

The Senate voted to proceed to an expected floor vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court tomorrow, but the final outcome is still uncertain.

As expected, the Senate voted to advance to a final vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the Supreme Court setting up a final floor vote on Saturday afternoon, but the final outcome of that vote remains up in the air:

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh cleared a major hurdle Friday morning in his quest for the Supreme Court, as the Senate voted narrowly to cut off debate on his nomination and move to a final vote as early as Saturday, but one Republican senator left open the possibility that she could still vote no.

The 51-49 vote is the next-to-last step in the most tumultuous Supreme Court confirmation process in decades. Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said her vote to move the confirmation forward did not signal how she will vote in the end. Instead, she will announce her position on Judge Kavanaugh at 3 p.m. Friday. Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, also voted yes, freeing Vice President Mike Pence from a tiebreaking vote on the nomination after Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, voted no.

It was unclear whether the votes of Senators Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, and Manchin reflected their final position. Republican leaders could be seen working hard even after the procedural vote ended to reverse Senator Murkowski’s opposition.

For Judge Kavanaugh, and the country, the stakes are huge: If confirmed, President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee will replace the high court’s swing vote, the retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, with a committed conservative, shifting the ideological balance on the court toward the right for generations.

(…)

Friday’s vote ushers in 30 hours of debate before the Senate takes its final vote on Judge Kavanaugh. It came as senators were still absorbing the results of a confidential F.B.I. inquiry into allegations of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh, allegations that have torn apart the Senate and divided the nation.

In divergent and often bitter remarks before the vote, senior senators delivered closing arguments Friday morning that demonstrated how deeply the nomination has split the Senate.

Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Judiciary Committee chairman, accused Democrats of waging a scorched-earth campaign to destroy Judge Kavanaugh — “the most qualified nominee in our nation’s history” — before he could be confirmed. He said that the burden of proof for the nominee’s accusers had not been met and that ample investigation had found no evidence to corroborate their claims.

“We had a campaign of distraction from his outstanding qualifications, a campaign of destruction of this individual,” Mr. Grassley said. “What we have learned is the resistance that has existed since the day after the November 2016 election is centered right here on Capitol Hill. They have encouraged mob rule.”

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, mocked Democrats and warned that a vote against Judge Kavanaugh based on uncorroborated accusations would dangerously erode “the ideals of justice that have served our nation so well for so long.”

(…)

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Committee, said Judge Kavanaugh had disqualified himself many times over because of his views on presidential power, gun rights and abortion rights. She chastised Republicans for an incomplete investigation of the sexual misconduct claims against him and said Judge Kavanaugh’s emotional defense at a public hearing last week demonstrated a temperament unfit for the office.

“Based on all the factors we have before us, I do not believe Judge Kavanaugh has earned this seat,” she said.

In the end, the vote on the Motion to Proceed was 51-49, which matches the Republican majority in the Senate. However, it ended up there with Lisa Murkowski voting “no” on the motion and Joe Manchin voting “yes.” Susan Collins and Jeff Flake both voted “yes” as well, but they made it clear that this was not necessarily an indication of how they will vote on the final vote. The same is true of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. Speaking to reporters after the vote, Lisa Murkowski indicates she will vote “no” on the nomination tomorrow. Jeff Flake, on the other hand, says he will vote yes when the nomination comes up for a final cote. This leaves the fate of the nomination in the hands of Senators Collins and Manchin. In Collins’s case, she stated just prior to the vote that she will announce how she will vote tomorrow in a floor speech that is currently scheduled for later this afternoon. If she ends up joining Murkowski, who will presumably be voting “no” on the final vote as she did on the Motion to Proceed, then eyes will turn to Senator Manchin has yet to announce where he will stand when the vote is taken. If Collins votes no, then Manchin could be the “yes” vote that makes this a 50-50 matter, which means that Kavanaugh would be confirmed with Vice-President Pence’s tie-breaking vote, or he could simply vote “no” and ascribe the failure of the nomination to the fact that two Republicans ended up voting “no.” If Collins votes “yes” then Manchin’s vote will essentially be meaningless to the final outcome.

At this point, further prognostication is basically a waste of time. The fate of this nomination will more or less be decided this afternoon when Senator Collins announces her position. Given the fact that she’s already said that she was generally satisfied with the outcome of the F.B.I.’s supplemental background investigation, I expect she’ll ultimately end up voting “yes,” but we can’t know for sure until she says so. As for Manchin, he’s unlikely to want to be the deciding vote in either direction notwithstanding the fact that voters in his state overwhelmingly support the nomination. Therefore, I expect that he’ll vote the same way Collins does in the end.

Stay tuned.

Update: Senators Collins and Manchin have both announced that they will support Kavanaugh’s confirmation. This assures he will be confirmed when the final vote takes place.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Congress, Law and the Courts, 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. Gustopher says:

    In Collins’s case, she stated just prior to the vote that she will announce how she will vote tomorrow in a floor speech that is currently scheduled for later this afternoon.

    Her sense of drama is lacking. There is no reason to announce this until the vote.

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  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I think Collins is signalling the end of her career with this vote…whether by her choice or not.

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  3. Kathy says:

    As for Manchin, he’s unlikely to want to be the deciding vote in either direction notwithstanding the fact that voters in his state overwhelmingly support the nomination. Therefore, I expect that he’ll vote the same way Collins does in the end.

    If he has any ambitions past another term in the Senate, or several more terms in the Senate, he should vote no, regardless of how Collins votes.

    On a related topic, I wonder how McCain would have voted.

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  4. Mister Bluster says:

    Collins is voting for Pud’s boyfriend Bart. Is anyone surprised?

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  5. MBunge says:

    @Kathy: If he has any ambitions past another term in the Senate, or several more terms in the Senate, he should vote no, regardless of how Collins votes.

    What if his ambitions involve going back to West Virginia?

    Mike

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  6. An Interested Party says:

    One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom.

    Uh huh…the process hit rock bottom when a nominee wasn’t even given a hearing, much less a vote…

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  7. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    More disappointed than surprised.

    Manchin is also voting yes, which means he won’t run for president in 2020 (not successfully).

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  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:

    If he has any ambitions past another term in the Senate, or several more terms in the Senate, he should vote no, regardless of how Collins votes.

    If he voted no he wouldn’t even be able to return home to that back-asswords red-neck state. I wish he had the spine to do what is right, no matter. But that is, apparently, too much to hope for.
    Collins made o fool of herself. She is serving her last term.

    Bottom line…the integrity of the SCOTUS is gone, just like Congress and the Presidency. Can we get it back? Maybe the Presidency and Congress. With Kavanaugh on the court…it’ll take decades before a decision can be taken seriously as jurisprudence.

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  9. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    If he voted no he wouldn’t even be able to return home to that back-asswords red-neck state.

    Is all his stuff there?

    I think it would be safe enough if he doesn’t affect the outcome. Since it won’t, he should vote no.

    BTW, if the vote is scheduled in such a way as to prevent a Senator from Montana from voting, then Manchin would cast the deciding vote for Kavanaugh. And the GOP might arrange it out of spite.

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  10. An Interested Party says:

    Collins made o fool of herself.

    Let’s see, she’s opposed to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, she believes that Ford was sexually assaulted, just not by Kavanaugh, and she hopes that he will work to lessen the divisions on SCOTUS…yes, she certainly is a fool…

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  11. reid says:

    @TM01: I would say that not even giving Garland a hearing at all would be rock bottom. This is nothing by comparison. (Oops, Interested Party beat me to it. I concur!)

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  12. Leonard says:

    @Mister Bluster: Pud?

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  13. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Good. If there’s any justice in this world, they’ll throw her out on her ass too. This entire thing – the entire governmental system – is irretrievably broken. Every time that you think that it can’t get any worse – that these mouthbreathers can’t stoop any lower, they prove that they indeed can.

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  14. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Can we get it back?

    No. It belongs to flyover overdose country now. Short of them all dropping dead or us just seeing reality and splitting the country in two, this is reality now. The mouthbreathers outnumber us. We are on a one way race to the bottom.

    If there is any consolation at all to be found in this, it’s that they will disproportionately suffer. They deserve to … Every pain they’ve suffered, and a thousand more waiting in the wings, are poetic justice.

    Let’s face it, folks – we are just two abjectly incompatible countries that hate each other, locked together within the framework of a failing union.

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  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @TM01:

    One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom.

    No, with you people involved, it can, and it will, always get worse. There is no bottom for your kind.

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  16. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Let’s face it, folks – we are just two abjectly incompatible countries that hate each other, locked together within the framework of a failing union.

    No, we’re not. We’re two competing fandoms who are absolutely certain our favorite player is the GOAT. And we’re all full of shit.

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  17. Kathy says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    No, with you people involved, it can, and it will, always get worse. There is no bottom for your kind.

    I agree.

    I hate to bring up historical analogies again(*), but Rome is a good one. After two rounds of civil war and much unrest, Augustus set himself up as the sole ruler of Rome and its empire, but preserved the forms and customs of the old Roman Republic.

    The Senate remained, the same magistracies remained, elections remained, but the only voice that really mattered was Augustus’.

    Trump is no Augustus (he’s not within a million light years of Augustus), and the level of unrest is nowhere near that which Rome faced. Best of all, violence and assassination are not accepted means of political discourse. The partisan divisions are deeper, though, and there are a lot of guns out there. The potential for unrest, if it breaks out, is terrible to contemplate.

    (*) Not really.

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  18. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    With all due respect, concern troll, you can go fk yourself, m’kay?

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  19. James Pearce says:

    Dear Martha,

    Pleasant weather today, and the boys are in good spirits. We march on Richmond tomorrow and there’s a low hum of excitement and dread in the camp. A pseudonymous French immigrant invited me to perform unnatural and quite impossible acts upon myself but I, of course, declined. O how I long for this war to end….

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  20. Mister Bluster says:

    @Leonard:..Pud?

    Where you been Hambone?
    I’ve been calling him REPUBLICAN President Pork Chop Pud ever since his TOTALLY FAKE WobbleHead vs. CNN wrestling video*.
    It is an Homage to Bobby Porkchop Cash of the National Wrestling Alliance.
    Pud? You are aware he defended his penis during the campaign and only a true prick would commit adultery with a porn star as his newborn son was suckling on his wife’s bosoms.

    *You will have to look it up. More than one link sends post to the shredder.

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  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    This war can only end in divorce or a lot of dead people. We learned nothing the first time.

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  22. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92: It’s not a war. It’s a TV show.

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  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: I would guess that McCain would vote yes. This isn’t an issue where being “mavericky” or displaying venality toward Trump has any political upside, so a party-line vote is called for.

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  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: The best you could come up with was a squash match between Porkchop and the Ultimate Warrior on the old syndicated WWF advertising the next “match in your community” show? Sad. Pathetic. Low Energy. Bigly.

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  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    It’s not a war yet

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  26. Mister Bluster says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:..The best you could come up with

    I’m a pathetic old sik fuk.
    I’ve never denied it.

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  27. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    It’s not a war yet

    It’ll never be a war, dude. Poseurs are pliable. By the time the shooting starts, they’ll be in a whole new configuration. My guess is it will either be “but we didn’t want war” or “don’t shoot me; shoot them.”

    Dems were so desperate to avoid a discussion about the ideological make-up of the court that they dug up some old rape allegations, knowing that #metoo derangement had a better chance than reason. And now, it’s all, “And it would have worked, too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.”

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  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    And how is it that I suspect that if the discussion about the ideological make up of the court had been the direction of the argument, you be all “the Court isn’t sposta be ideological?” (and, for a change of pace, I’d have to admit that you were correct and thoughtful–or at least sort of so)

    The big problem with your argument, such as it is, is twofold: first, the nation needs a good judge to replace any former justice but the GOP doesn’t give a fuk and will be pushing through a second political tool instead, and second is that your argument is not guided by reason but by a contrarian principle that urges you to reject whatever anyone else is saying–making you no improvement intellectually or morally over the trolls you don’t like to be lumped together with.

    As I have said about Eric Florak before, I liked reading your stuff better when you were thoughtful and intelligent in your commenting. You’re going down another branch of his bad road. You could turn around, but I doubt that you will.

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  29. An Interested Party says:

    As I have said about Eric Florak before, I liked reading your stuff better when you were thoughtful and intelligent in your commenting.

    When was that?!?

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