Explainer: Brett Kavanaugh is now inches away from ascending to the US Supreme Court

By Prarthana Mitra

The US Senate is poised to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as the next Associate Supreme Court Justice after one of the most riveting and controversial confirmation hearings in recent history concluded with an FBI investigation.

After three women came forward with sexual assault allegations against the Judge who set to assume the highest position in the judicial system, it led to a polarising debate along partisan lines, and a historic testimony from the primary accuser, Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, last month. Her harrowing account, followed by Kavanaugh’s angry rebuttal, egged the Senate Judiciary Committee to call for a limited FBI probe into the allegations, which ended on Friday.

While many criticised the nodal investigative agency for not interrogating crucial witnesses and alibis before clearing Kavanaugh of the charges, Republicans wasted no time in advancing his nomination, the final vote for which will be cast late Saturday.

A done deal

On Friday, key senators including Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, came out in support of the nominee during a cloture vote, bringing the number of supporters to 51 (required to win) in a 100-strong Senate. Jeff Flake, whose solitary dissent led to the probe last week, also voiced his support for the candidate, leaving Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska as the sole Republican opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Elated, US President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday, “Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting “YES” to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!”

This does not only confirm Kavanaugh a seat in the country’s top court but also registers a big win for the Trump administration and Republicans in general because it tilts the court decidedly to the right which can see quite a few changes in existing progressive laws.

The big bad picture

However, a tougher campaign awaits them in the coming elections, because of their decision to back an anti-abortion rights nominee, who is likely to overturn the crucial Roe vs. Wade ruling soon after ascending to the court. Now, multiple inconclusively and incomprehensively investigated sexual assault charges remain against Kavanaugh, and will expectedly serve as a constant reminder to American women, who form a key constituency. They continue to occupy the streets outside the Capitol in hordes, protesting the confirmation which repeats the mistake of 1991, while the spectre of Anita Hill looms in reproach.

Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius

US Politics