Controversial Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is at the finish line. Despite allegations of alleged sexual assault victims, he received a majority of votes in the Senate – a big win for Trump, too.
Senate confirmation ends Brett Kavanaugh's lengthy Supreme Court nomination process. U.S. President Donald Trump's preferred candidate received a majority of votes in the Saturday afternoon (local time) vote. Accompanied by angry heckling and loud protests from the gallery, 50 of the senators voted for Kavanaugh, 48 against him.
His nomination – despite allegations of abuse victims and doubts about his character suitability for the supreme judicial office – is also a major success for the president, who had clearly backed his candidate.
Kavanaugh was sworn in shortly after the vote, and as of Tuesday he is officially the Supreme Court's chief justice for life – making him the second conservative justice Trump has placed there, after Neil Gorsuch.
Judge for life
In confirming his nominee, Trump has accomplished two things. Kavanaugh is considered conservative – as evidence, more than 300 sentencing opinions have been penned by him. With him, the Supreme Court shifts politically to the right. In the future, conservative judges will have a five-to-four majority – and can shape U.S. jurisprudence accordingly. What's more, Kavanaugh may hold the bench for several decades because of his comparatively young age of 53.
For the vast majority of Republicans, the judge's nomination is a success – Kavanaugh is considered part of the Republican establishment in Washington and has extensive knowledge of government and the administration. Already in the U.S. election campaign between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000, he helped to legally secure the disputed vote count in Florida in favor of the later president.
Bush later brought Kavanaugh into the White House as a staffer. Even before that, the lawyer played a leading role in the impeachment proceedings against Democratic head of state Bill Clinton as an aide to special investigator Kenneth Starr.
Several women accuse him of sexual assault
For many Democrats and representatives of the #MeToo movement, however, Kavanaugh's confirmation is a defeat. In recent weeks, there have been repeated protests against the nominee, who has been accused by several women of sexual assault during his student days. Among others, psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford accuses Kavanaugh of attempted rape. The latter denies the allegations.
A non-public FBI report requested by Trump produced no evidence of wrongdoing by Kavanaugh in the view of Republicans; many Democrats disagree with that assessment.
Undisputed are Kavanaugh's professional qualifications. He attended the same elite Jesuit school as Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump nominated to the Supreme Court last year. He graduated cum laude from the prestigious Yale University law school. Observers attest to Kavanaugh's "scalpel-like precision" in his job performance. "He's a thoughtful, strategic judge," says John Malcolm, vice chairman of the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation.
"Religious liberty warrior"
Kavanaugh has so far attracted attention as a staunch defender of religious liberties. Trump even calls him a "religious liberty warrior". Whether he will clearly side with pro-life supporters in the abortion debate, however, cannot be predicted based on his record so far. While Kavanaugh voted in favor of restrictions on the ie of abortions several times in the past.
The landmark ruling "Roe v. But he is unlikely to overturn the 1973 "Wade" law, which largely legalized abortions in the U.S. He is considered a supporter of the legal formula of "stare decisis," according to which precedents already set should not be overturned if possible.
Kavanaugh is married to Ashley Estes, who George W. Bush's personal secretary in the White House was. They have two daughters, Margaret and Liza. Kavanaugh is a regular churchgoer and volunteers for the Catholic feeding of the poor St. Maria's Meals. With him, five of the nine chief justices are now Catholic.
By Inga Kilian and Bernd Tenhage