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Kavanaugh confirmed to US Supreme Court; Manchin, Capito vote ‘aye’

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate voted Saturday to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, with both of West Virginia’s senators among those voting in favor of confirmation.

Kavanaugh, who was sworn in Saturday, replaces Anthony Kennedy, who retired from the high court in July.

The confirmation vote came following protests against Kavanaugh in light of sexual assault accusations; Kavanaugh and California professor Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which Ford said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied the accusations.

The final vote was 50-48. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted “present” as a gesture to Montana Sen. Steve Daines, who did not vote because he was attending his daughter’s wedding. Murkowski voted Friday against moving the nomination forward, the only Republican to do so.

Manchin and Capito both voted Friday to end cloture.

Manchin was the last senator to announce his position on Kavanaugh; he released a statement Friday afternoon minutes after Maine Sen. Susan Collins announced her support on the Senate floor.

“I met with the nominee for over two hours, attended his hearings, spoke with constitutional experts, and heard from thousands of West Virginians,” he said in a Friday press release.

“I have reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing. And my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life,” he also said. “However, based on all of the information I have available to me, including the recently completed FBI report, I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him. I do hope that Judge Kavanaugh will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court.”

Manchin, the only Democrat to vote in favor of Kavanaugh, had said he was concerned about what putting Kavanaugh on the bench could mean for the provision regarding insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions.

“With respect to any cases that may come before him impacting the 800,000 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions, Judge Kavanaugh assured me personally that he would consider the human impacts and approach any decision with surgical precision to avoid unintended consequences,” he said. “That is why I voted to confirm Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to serve on the Supreme Court because I believe he will rule in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution.”

Capito was an early supporter of Kavanaugh.

“I have remained supportive of Judge Kavanaugh throughout the confirmation process because I believe that his exemplary record as a jurist, his respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, and his character and devotion to public service make him immensely qualified and deserving of this important responsibility,” she said in a press release.

“Given all of the facts that have been presented and the numerous conversations I’ve had with Judge Kavanaugh myself, I am firm in my belief that President Trump made the right choice in nominating him, and today’s vote was an important acknowledgment of that.”

Capito was on the Senate floor Friday for Collins’ speech.

Republican Senate candidate and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, as well as the Republican National Committee, criticized Manchin for the timing of his announcement.

“Joe Manchin’s vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh was illustrative of his lack of conviction. He waited until the votes were in before he announced his support and we deserve better. West Virginians deserve a senator that will stand up for our values no matter the political implication,” RNC spokesman Brett Tubbs said. “Thankfully, we can replace him with Patrick Morrisey next month.”

Morrisey said Friday Manchin only votes for his own interests.

“Spending months on the sideline, Manchin allowed Senate Democrats and the liberal media to orchestrate a resist and obstruct circus to smear President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee,” he said. “Manchin owes West Virginia an apology for watching, doing nothing, as Democrats sought to destroy Judge Brett Kavanaugh.”

Protesters held a sit-in Monday at Manchin’s Charleston campaign office to urge him to vote against confirmation. Manchin and Capito’s staff met with a group Thursday regarding the nomination.

A banner reading “Shame on Manchin” was placed in front of Manchin’s campaign office Saturday evening.

Kavanaugh most recently served as a judge on the D.C. District Court. He previously served under Ken Starr and worked on inquiries into President Bill Clinton. He also worked in the administration of President George W. Bush.

For President Donald Trump, Kavanaugh is the second justice of his presidency to be confirmed.

“I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court. Later today, I will sign his Commission of Appointment, and he will be officially sworn in. Very exciting!” he tweeted.

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