Two senators crossed party lines on the nomination. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) voted aye on the procedural vote, which starts the clock for a final vote likely on Saturday afternoon, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted against it. Each senator has been the focus of intense lobbying efforts on behalf of public interest groups.
The tension inside the Senate chamber was extraordinary, as most Senators stood to announce their votes, and the chamber was largely silent as the roll was called.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) told reporters after the procedural vote that he planned to vote “yes,” meaning that the fate of Kavanaugh’s nomination likely rests with Manchin and Collins. Each has yet to announce their final vote.
Murkowski told reporters that she made up her mind as she walked to the chamber. She told reporters that Kavanaugh was a “good man,” but “not the right man for the court at this time.”
“I believe that we are dealing with issues right now that are bigger than a nominee and how we can ensure that our institutions, not only the legislative branch but the judicial branch, continue to be respected,” she said.
On the floor before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the Kavanaugh confirmation was the “shameful culmination of scorched-earth politics practiced by the hard right.”
He called it a “sorry epilogue to the brazen theft of Justice Scalia’s seat.” He was referring to the refusal of Republicans to hold a hearing on President Barack Obama’s nomination to succeed Scalia, Merrick Garland.
Demonstrators continued to stage rally and protests on Friday morning. More than a dozen anti-Kavanaugh protesters were detained just outside the Russell Senate Office building, in what has been a familiar sight throughout the confirmation process.
Hundreds of protesters were arrested on Thursday, as demonstrators staged a sit-in at the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building. Among those detained were actresses Amy Schumer and Emily Ratajkowski. Demonstrators were charged with crowding or obstructing a public space, a misdemeanor.
In a fiery speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), decried what he called “mob rule” at the Capitol and what he said was a tone of incivility from the left.
President Donald Trump tweeted about the contentious Kavanaugh confirmation debate, attacking two women who confronted Flake in an elevator last week after he announced that he would vote for the nomination. He later said he would not support Kavanaugh in a final vote until a week-long FBI investigation was conducted on claims from Christine Blasey Ford that he sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school.