Republican Sen. Susan Collins announced Friday that she will vote for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Collins, from Maine, was considered a key swing vote along with Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Jeff Flake, Arizona, and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia. Collins’ vote to confirm Kavanaugh makes it increasingly likely that he will ascend to the highest court of the land.
During her remarks on the Senate floor, Collins said “today we have come to the conclusion of a confirmation process that has become so dysfunctional it looks more like a caricature of a gutter-level political campaign than a solemn occasion.”
“Our Supreme Court confirmation process has been in steady decline for more than 30 years,” she continued. “One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom.”
In her speech, she downplayed fears that Kavanaugh will overturn rulings on same-sex marriage and abortion rights, among other issues.
Collins also said it is important to protect “the presumption of innocence” in this case after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 1982 while they were in high school.
She called Ford’s testimony “sincere, painful and compelling” — and that she believes Ford is a victim of sexual assault. But, Collins said, none of the people interviewed in the FBI investigation could provide any corroborating information about Ford’s accusations that Kavanaugh was the person who assaulted her.
Because of that, Collins said the accusations were not enough to make her vote against Kavanaugh.
Collins had previously voted in favor of Kavanaugh during a procedural vote on Friday but said she wouldn’t reveal her final decision until 3 p.m. on the floor of the Senate on Friday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he had lunch with Collins hours before she made her announcement. He said he was “optimistic” after that meeting, according to media reports.
Flake said on Friday that he will vote to confirm Kavanaugh “unless something big changes,” while Murkowski said she will vote against Kavanaugh because he is “not the right man for the court.” Manchin remained undecided on Friday as other senators made decisions.
With a 51-49 Republican majority in the Senate, all it would take is two GOP senators to vote “no” to sink Kavanaugh’s nomination — assuming that all Democrats vote against the judge as well. If it ties 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence will cast the tie-breaking vote.
The vote is expected to take place on Saturday.
President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on July 9 after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. If confirmed by the Senate, Kavanaugh is expected to push the high court further to the right with his lifetime appointment.
In September, Ford came forward and accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, according to The Washington Post. She says that while they were both in high school in 1982, Kavanaugh groped her and tried to rip off her clothes as he pinned her down on a bed.
The judge fiercely denied the accusations during a hearing in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27 after Ford testified. Kavanaugh also went on Fox News before the hearing and said that he has always respected women and was a virgin at the time of the accusations.