Top stories of 2018: Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation
In the summer of 2018, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he was retiring from the court. Kennedy was long held as the “swing vote” on the conservative-leaning court. A Reagan appointee, Kennedy’s vacated seat meant that President Donald Trump would be nominating his second justice since taking office.
On July 9, Trump nominated U.S. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the court.
For the months leading up to his confirmation hearings in the senate, Kavanaugh’s appointment seemed assured, with all Republicans seemingly on board along with several Democrats. Even if Kavanaugh didn’t receive any opposition votes, he would likely be confirmed.
The initial hearings included an interruption by protestors over Kavanaugh’s anti-abortion leanings, but it seemed as though Kavanaugh’s confirmation was going to happen.
Then all hell broke loose.
There was a kerfuffle by Democrats over missing records about Kavanaugh’s time during the George W. Bush administration that hadn’t been seen by several committee members. But even that didn’t seem to derail any path to confirmation as hearings were tense, but not unordinary.
On Sept. 12, five days after three days of Senate hearings ended, reports surfaced of a July letter sent to the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), with a sexual assault accusation of Kavanaugh. Four days later the Washington Post published Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s account of an alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh and friend Mark Judge while the three were in high school in Maryland.
What followed was a three-week political soap opera and a round robin of he-said-she-said accusations, with more women speaking out against Kavanaugh and a political movement.
After dramatic public testimonies by Ford and Kavanaugh, fiery questions and speeches from Senators on the Judiciary Committee and a last-second push to postpone votes on the Senate floor until an extended FBI investigation took place, Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court fate rested in the hands of just a handful of Senators.
On Oct. 5, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced she was a “yes” vote on Kavanaugh, which eventually allowed Kavanaugh to join the court. He was sworn in several days later.
The sixth of our 10 top stories of 2018 will post on Dec. 18.