Embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh moved one step closer to confirmation on Friday, following a 11-10 vote from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
After a series of delays, the vote fell along partisan lines.
The 11 Republicans on the committee voted to confirm Kavanaugh following a tense, emotional, eight-hour hearing on Thursday, in which Palo Alto professor Christine Blasey Ford detailed her allegations of sexual assault.
The “Yes” votes included Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), both of whom spoke out on Kavanaugh’s behalf. Cruz blasted the hearings as a “profoundly unfair process,” calling it “one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the United States Senate.”
Meanwhile, Graham claimed Democrats want to “destroy this guy’s life.”
“To my Republican colleagues, if you vote ‘no,’ you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing that I have seen in my time in politics,” the conservative said in an impassioned speech on Thursday, one many believe tipped the scales on Kavanaugh’s nomination after Ford’s gut-wrenching testimony.
In addition to Ford, two other women have come forward to accuse the SCOTUS nominee of misconduct: Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick.
Critics of Kavanaugh believed Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) could potentially serve as a crucial swing vote to block his confirmation from moving forward. But the self-described “traditionally conservative Republican” deflated those hopes Friday morning after releasing a statement saying he would back the 53-year-old’s nomination.
After Flake’s vote was announced, a sexual assault survivor reportedly confronted the Senator in an elevator. She claimed his vote told “all women in America that they don’t matter.”
Every Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. “No” votes included Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
As Republicans set the vote for 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Harris staged a walkout among liberals on the committee.
Kavanaugh, however, faces a number of key hurdles to cross before he is officially confirmed to fill retired Justice Anthony Kennedy’s spot on the Supreme Court bench. Senate leadership is expected to hold procedural votes over the weekend ahead of a likely vote in the full chamber on Tuesday.
Flake, however, called for a one-week delay on the Senate vote to give the FBI time to investigate the allegations.
As Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate by a 51-49 margin, at least two conservative Senators would need to flip in order to block Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
The judge’s fate is likely to be decided by two moderate Republicans. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), both of whom are pro-choice, and have yet to state how they plan to vote on Kavanaugh. As INTO previously reported, a group of trans constituents met with Murkowski earlier this month urging her to vote “no.”
If Kavanaugh is confirmed to the court, as women’s rights and LGBTQ advocates have warned, his reliably conservative vote could jeopardize critical SCOTUS rulings like Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges.
Little is known about Kavanaugh’s views on LGBTQ rights, as he didn’t weigh in on the subject during his decade on the D.C. circuit court.
Advocacy groups have thus lobbied the White House to release records from the three years he spent as staff secretary under the George W. Bush administration, during which the Oval Office backed a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Those requests have not been met.