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The Ninth Supreme Court Justice

October 19, 2018

On July 9, 2018, President Donald Trump announced his second nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States — Brett M. Kavanaugh, a District of Columbia Circuit Court Judge. Brett Kavanaugh was appointed to the Circuit Court by President George W. Bush in 2006.

The vote to confirm Kavanaugh was 50-48, the closest numerically recorded vote in Supreme Court History, and the lowest number of votes ever used to confirm a justice since the Senate reached 100 members in 1959. The reason for this is at the heart of the controversy surrounding Justice Kavanaugh. Shortly after Kavanaugh was nominated to the court, a woman named Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while the two were in high school. Following her accusation, two more women stepped forward accusing Kavanaugh of sexually explicit behavior.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, a group of 21 senators –10 Democrats and 11 Republicans — is tasked with deciding whether the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court is qualified to serve and will faithfully execute the role of a justice. The group interviewed Kavanaugh in early September, and the consensus was to move his nomination forward. But then Blasey Ford’s accusation surfaced, resulting in a September 27 hearing in which both Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh testified.. During this hearing, both answered questions from each side of the aisle, and there was a large amount of controversy surrounding Kavanaugh’s testimony. He claimed he never drank enough to black out and did not engage in any inappropriate behavior. However, many of his high school and college classmates said  that the details he provided about his activities, namely drinking, were blatantly inaccurate.

The hearing also raised questions about Kavanaugh’s temperament and behavior, as he became extremely angry and aggressive, accusing the Democrats of targeting him in a “calculated and orchestrated political hit.”.

Despite all of the allegations, public backlash, and protests, on September 28, the 11 Republicans on the judiciary committee voted to put the Kavanaugh nomination before the Senate after a one-week FBI investigation. The investigation turned up nothing incriminating about Kavanaugh, although many Democrats accused the Trump administration of limiting the investigation’s scope. On October 6, the Senate confirmed the nomination. The vote was mostly along party lines, although Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted in favor. Later that day, Chief Justice John Roberts and President Donald Trump officially swore in Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh as the 114th Justice of the Supreme Court.

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