The US Senate narrowly approved Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court on Saturday despite the sexual assault allegations hanging over him.
Senators voted 50-48 in favour despite marches and protests in 28 states organised by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, National Domestic Workers Alliance and others. Protesters thronged Capitol Hill in Washington on Saturday despite hundreds being arrested for doing so just days before, while others shouted “shame!” from the public gallery as senators voted to endorse Mr Kavanaugh, whose Supreme Court seat is a lifetime appointment.
Prior to voting, senators were allowed to view an FBI report on its investigation into Mr Kavanaugh based on the accusation from Dr Christine Blasey-Ford, who says she was sexually assaulted by him at college. He denies the charge.
The sole copy of the report was viewed in a sealed room to prevent leaks, but Democrat senators have said the investigation was “limited,” with other accusations of sexual assault being ignored and witnesses not questioned.
All Democrats voted against Mr Kavanaugh’s appointment, except West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, and all Republicans voted for him, except Alaskan Lisa Murkowski, who abstained — prompting President Donald Trump, who praised Mr Kavanaugh for being a “squeaky clean” candidate, to say her home state would never forgive her conduct.
The president said that Mr Kavanaugh had been a “very big judge” for years and if he had done anything wrong it would have “come out loud and clear.”
Aside from Dr Blasey-Ford, at least two women have accused Mr Kavanagh of sexual assault, while the DC Circuit Court on which he served sent 15 complaints of alleged lying and “inappropriate judicial conduct including lying” to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
Mr Trump dismissed the mass protests, saying those demonstrating had been paid to do so and said Democrats had become “an angry left-wing mob.”
But trade union federation AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said the Senate had “shirked its fundamental responsibility” in confirming the new Supreme Court judge.
He said the appointment handed the court to “corporate elites,” noting that “even the most cursory review of Kavanaugh’s judicial record reveals a right-wing extremist dedicated to advancing the demands of a few wealthy CEOs at the expense of working families.”