The Senate judiciary committee plowed forward with a vote on Donald Trump’s US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh today (Sept. 28), despite protests by Democrats who have called for further investigation of the sexual-misconduct allegations against the judge. The Republican-led committee voted 11-10, along partisan lines.
Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican, said he would “move the vote out of committee” but he is not comfortable taking the vote to the Senate floor without due diligence. He urged further investigation of the nominee before a full Senate vote: “I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for one week for an FBI investigation…limited in time to no more than one week. I will vote to advance the bill to the floor with that understanding and I’ve spoken to a few members on my side of the aisle to delay the vote as well.”
Democrats protested the committee vote, saying, “On the nominee, no,” after their efforts to delay the confirmation process pending further investigation of the allegations against Kavanaugh were denied. Kamala Harris of California walked out of the hearing before the vote in the earlier session but returned to register her disapproval of the nominee in the afternoon.
She said that with so much at stake, and Kavanaugh up for a lifetime appointment on the highest court, senators should “push pause.”
Committee chairman Republican Chuck Grassley had been intent on the vote, no matter how fraught Kavanaugh’s confirmation process has been.
Democrats were already riled up earlier in the month during the initial hearings with the judge because 42,000 documents from Kavanaugh’s time as a Republican White House staffer were deemed privileged and confidential and not released. Two weeks ago, the nominee was accused of committing a drunken high-school sexual assault in 1982, by Christine Blasey Ford, a California psychology professor.
Despite two other women coming forward, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, about Kavanaugh’s involvement in sexual misconduct, and despite Ford’s compelling testimony before the committee yesterday, the 11 Republicans voted to confirm the judge. As such, his confirmation will be put before the full Senate, where the drama will continue.
Some Republican senators remain on the fence about Kavanaugh, so though the GOP has a 51-member majority and Democrats hold only 49 seats, the fate of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination is not yet clear. Confirmation will rest with a few potential swing votes—including Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Notably, during his testimony yesterday, Kavanaugh behaved erratically and was uncooperative with Democratic senators. He called their resistance to him part of a political conspiracy orchestrated to take him down in revenge for his work on the impeachment investigation of president Bill Clinton in 1998.
Feinstein called the nominee “aggressive and belligerent” and wrote on Twitter before today’s vote, “He should not be rewarded with a lifetime Supreme Court seat.”