She said yes. Senator Susan Collins, the moderate Republican whose vote was considered crucial to secure the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, said this afternoon that she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh when his candidacy comes before the full Senate this weekend.
Senator Joe Manchin, the Democrat from West Virginia, announced very soon afterward that he, too, would vote in favor of Judge Kavanaugh. If so, that would make Manchin the lone Democrat to vote “yes,” after Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota announced yesterday that they would vote against Kavanaugh.
The other undecided Republican, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, has said she will vote against Kavanaugh. If each senator votes the way he or she has said they will, Kavanaugh will be confirmed by the narrow margin of 51-49.
Collins showed a flair for the dramatic, making the long-anticipated announcement at the end of a 45-minute speech in which she decried the “circus” the confirmation process had become but defended the #metoo movement’s elevation of the stories of sexual assault survivors into the public consciousness. Although Collins said she found Kavanaugh’s chief accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, “credible” and opined that she believed Ford was indeed “a survivor” of sexual abuse, she expressed concern that none of the four people whom Ford identified as key witnesses confirmed her allegations. Collins observed that the U.S. Constitution does not set a standard by which individual senators should exercise “advice and consent,” but said she believe that our national commitment to the principle of due process mandates that charges against nominees be evaluated at least by the “more likely than not” standard. By this standard, she said, Ford’s charge fell short.
Collins concluded with the strongest possible affirmation of Brett Kavanaugh’s character:
Mr. President, we’ve heard a lot of charges and counter charges about Judge Kavanaugh. But as those who have known him best have attested, he has been an exemplary public servant, judge, teacher, coach, husband, and father. Despite the turbulent, bitter fight surrounding his nomination, my fervent hope is that Brett Kavanaugh will work to lessen the divisions in the Supreme Court so that we have far fewer 5-4 decisions and so that public confidence in our Judiciary and our highest court is restored. Mr. President, I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.
If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed by the full Senate this weekend, he deserves to take his seat without a cloud of suspicion lingering over him. As Kavanaugh himself said last week, a seat on the highest Court in the land is too small a price to pay for one’s reputation.