Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court Saturday in the closest of such vote in the Senate for over a century amid controversy regarding sexual abuse allegations against him.
The Senate voted 50-48 to approve Kavanaugh as more than 1,000 protesters rallied in Washington against a nominee who had to overcome questions over his candour, partisan rhetoric and lifestyle as a young man.
His confirmation is one of the biggest victories of President Donald Trump despite a monthslong battle that has roiled American passions, and disrupted on several occasions by angry protests in the gallery.
It drew the line under a bruising nomination process defined by harrowing testimony from research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh tried to rape her when they were teenagers — and by his fiery rebuttal.
The confirmation means Trump has succeeded in having his two picks seated on the court — tilting it decidedly to the right in a major coup for the Republican leader less than halfway through his term.
It also reflects a high water mark of the Trump presidency: Republican control of the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the judiciary’s top court.
But the Kavanaugh spectacle, fueled by extraordinary accusations and counter-claims in nationally televised hearings, and tense battles over an 11th-hour FBI investigation to address the assault allegations, has inflamed political passions.
Just hours before the vote, scores of protesters broke through barricades and staged a raucous sit-in protest on the US Capitol steps, just feet away from the imposing doors to the Rotunda.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation process has laid bare the partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill and the political polarization of America just a month before midterm elections.
His promotion to the Supreme Court also stands as a demoralizing defeat for Democrats who had battled hard to block the 53-year-old judge at all costs.