BOSTON (CBS) – Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as the 114th Supreme Court justice on Saturday, shortly after senators voted to confirm him to the nation’s highest court.
Saturday’s ceremony and vote came after months of contentious debate.
Senators approved Kavanaugh’s nomination by a 50-48 margin. Sen. Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, who said she planned to vote “no,” withdrew her vote so Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican from Montana, could attend his daughter’s wedding and did not have to attend the vote.
Protesters interrupted the proceedings briefly while Vice President Mike Pence attempted to call for a vote to begin.
In the pivotal moment Friday, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, perhaps the chamber’s most moderate Republican, proclaimed her support for Kavanaugh at the end of a Senate floor speech that lasted nearly 45 minutes. While she was among a handful of Republicans who helped sink Trump’s quest to obliterate President Barack Obama’s health care law last year, this time she proved instrumental in delivering a triumph to Trump.
Collins told fellow senators that Christine Blasey Ford’s dramatic testimony last week describing Kavanaugh’s alleged 1982 assault was “sincere, painful and compelling.” But she said the FBI had found no corroborating evidence from witnesses whose names Ford had provided.
“We will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting though it may be,” she said. “We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy.”
Those passions were on full display this week in a fight that could energize both parties’ voters in elections for control of Congress just five weeks away. The showdown drew raucous demonstrators — largely anti-Kavanaugh — to the Capitol, where they raised tensions by repeatedly confronting lawmakers despite an intensified police presence. Another 101 protesters were arrested Friday, the U.S. Capitol Police said.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)