HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed and sworn in as the newest Supreme Court Justice. This week's panel: Jessica Colon - Republican strategist, Nyanza Moore - progressive commentator and Houston attorney, Bob Price – Associate Editor Breitbart Texas, Tony Diaz- Chicano educator and activist, Tomaro Bell – Super Neighborhood leader, Bill King - businessman, columnist and former Kemah Mayor, discusses the events of the past week leading up to the swearing in ceremony.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The bitter battle over Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court has exacerbated the nation's political divide and left many Americans emotionally raw. It's also given new definition to the high stakes of November's election.
Until now, the fight for control of Congress has largely been viewed as a referendum on President Donald Trump's first two years in office. But the turmoil surrounding Kavanaugh has transformed the midterms into something bigger than Trump, with implications that could endure long after his presidency. The election is suddenly layered with charged cultural questions about the scarcity of women in political power, the handling of sexual assault allegations, and shifting power dynamics that have left some white men uneasy about their place in American life.
Both parties contend the new contours of the race will energize their supporters in the election's final stretch. And both may be right.
Republicans, however, may benefit most in the short term. Until now, party leaders - Trump included - have struggled to energize GOP voters, even with a strong economy to campaign on. The president's middling job approval rating and independent voters' disdain for his constant personal attacks have been a drag on GOP candidates, particularly in the more moderate suburban districts that will determine control of the House.
But Republican operatives say internal polling now shows Kavanaugh's acrimonious confirmation has given the party a much-needed boost, with GOP voters viewing Democrats as overzealous partisans following the public testimony by Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accused the judge of trying to rape her while they were both in high school. Ford said she was "100 percent" certain that Kavanaugh was her attacker, while the judge steadfastly denied her allegations.
"Their strategy to capitalize on the 'Me Too' movement for the political purposes backfired on them," Republican strategist Alice Stewart said of Democrats. "The fact that they were willing to use Dr. Ford's story that was uncorroborated to launch character assassinations on Judge Kavanaugh did not sit well with voters. A lot of people looked at this as a bridge too far."
The surge in GOP enthusiasm could recalibrate a political landscape that was tilting toward Democrats throughout the summer. Though Democrats still maintain an advantage in competitive House races, the past two weeks appear to have shifted momentum in the fight for the Senate majority back to the GOP.
In North Dakota, Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer has pulled comfortably ahead of Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who voted no on Kavanaugh. GOP operatives say they're also seeing renewed Republican interest in states like Wisconsin, where Democratic candidates for both Senate and governor have been polling strong.
"It's turned our base on fire," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday, moments after the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh.
To be sure, some tightening in the race was likely inevitable this fall. Wavering voters often move back toward their party's candidates as Election Day nears, and most of the competitive Senate races are in states that voted for Trump by a significant margin.
With just over four weeks until Election Day, there is still time for the dynamics to shift again. And the political headwinds from the Kavanaugh confirmation are unlikely to blow in just one direction.
To Democrats, Kavanaugh's assent to the Supreme Court in spite of decades-old sexual misconduct allegations will only deepen the party's pull with female voters, including independents and moderates who may have previously voted for Republicans. Democrats point to the flood of women who have spoken out about their own assaults following Ford's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Party operatives also believe the optics of the all-male GOP panel that presided over the hearing struck a chord with female voters.
"Kavanaugh's confirmation will leave a lot of outraged and energized women in its wake," said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster.
Democrats argue that some of the same tactics that have helped energize Republican voters also motivate their base, particularly Trump's attacks on Ford. During a campaign rally in Mississippi, the president mocked Ford for not remembering key details of the alleged attack, including the date and location of the party she says she and Kavanaugh attended 36 years ago.
"You've seen some shifts, but I still think that we're in a strong place," said New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "I still think that it gives us a lot of enthusiasm on our side because there are a lot of people out there that are really upset, not just with the testimony that came from Judge Kavanaugh but the way the president was even mocking (Ford) days ago."
Trump remains the fall campaign's biggest wildcard. White House advisers and Republican senators are encouraging him to keep Kavanaugh in the spotlight in the campaign's final weeks. But they're well aware that the president often struggles to stay on message and can quickly overshadow his political victories with new controversies.
Given that, Stewart said Republicans can't assume that this burst of momentum will sustain itself through Election Day.
"The question is whether this is the October surprise or the calm before the storm," Stewart said.
Saturday, October 6
President Donald Trump says he is a "hundred percent" sure that the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school named the wrong person.
Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate on Saturday by a 50-48 vote. His Supreme Court nomination was roiled for weeks by allegations of sexual misconduct and drunken behavior when Kavanaugh was a high school and college student.
Trump tells reporters on Air Force One that one of the reasons he chose Kavanaugh "is because there's nobody with a squeaky-clean past" like him.
Trump also says he believes a rally speech in which he mocked Christine Blasey Ford's sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh proved to be a turning point for the nomination.
The remarks drew criticism from Democrats and Republicans in the Senate.
Saturday, October 6, 6:20 p.m.
Brett Kavanaugh has taken the oaths of office to become the 114th Supreme Court justice, just a couple of hours after the Senate voted 50-48 to confirm him.
The quick swearing in enables Kavanaugh to begin work immediately in advance of arguments at the court Tuesday in two cases involving prison sentences for repeat offenders.
The court says Kavanaugh took the oath required by the Constitution and another for judges that is part of federal law in the same room where the justices meet for their private conferences.
The 53-year-old justice's wife, children and parents were in attendance.
Chief Justice John Roberts administered the constitutional oath and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy administered the judicial oath. Kavanaugh is replacing Kennedy on the bench and once served as his law clerk.
Saturday, October 6, 6:05 p.m.
Protesters are occupying the steps of the Supreme Court following the Senate's confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh.
The demonstrators went up the steps of the Supreme Court holding signs and chanting, "we believe survivors" and "hey hey, ho ho, Kavanaugh has got to go."
Officers are blocking the doors to the court and are face to face with the protesters. Some of the demonstrators are hanging from the columns of the building, and women are sitting on the two marble statues beside the steps.
Republicans have denounced the protests that have gripped the Capitol in recent days as "mob rule."
Kavanaugh was confirmed as an associate justice Saturday in a 50-48 Senate vote. The Supreme Court says he will be sworn in as a justice later Saturday.
Saturday, October 6, 5:20 p.m.
President Donald Trump flashed two thumbs up when the Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He also criticized Democrats for what he called a "horrible, horrible attack" on Kavanaugh.
Trump watched the vote Saturday in his private cabin aboard Air Force One as he flew to a campaign rally in Kansas. He invited reporters to join him as the votes were tallied.
Trump predicted the appeals court judge would be a "totally brilliant Supreme Court justice for many years," and went on to praise Kavanaugh's "temperament, his incredible past, his outstanding years on the court."
Trump blamed Democrats for the controversy over allegations of sexual misconduct when Kavanaugh was a high school and college student.
He called it "a horrible attack that nobody should have to go through."
Saturday, October 6, 5:10 p.m.
Capitol Police say 164 people have been arrested at protests that took place as the Senate was voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Most of them - a total of 150 people - were arrested on the steps of the Capitol's East Front. They were among hundreds gathered at the Capitol to protest Kavanaugh's confirmation.
Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct. He denies the allegations.
Fourteen more were arrested in the Senate Gallery during the closely divided vote.
All those arrested were charged with unlawful crowding, obstructing or incommoding, which means inconveniencing someone They were processed offsite and released.
A few hours before the vote, demonstrators shouted "November is coming!" and "Vote them out!"
Protesters shouted "I do not consent" during the roll call vote on Kavanaugh.
Saturday, October 6, 5 p.m.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate "stood up for presumption of innocence" by confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48 Saturday during a historic roll call vote in the Senate chamber. The two-vote margin is one of the narrowest ever for a Supreme Court nominee.
The Senate confirmed Kavanaugh despite the allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Kavanaugh denied the allegations, and Republicans say an FBI investigation did not corroborate them.
McConnell said at a press conference that putting Kavanaugh on the court "was about treating someone fairly."
He called the vote "a good day for America" and predicted voters will reward Republicans for it in the midterm election. The struggle to confirm Kavanaugh, in his words, "turned our base on fire."
Saturday, October 6, 4:20p.m.
Brett Kavanaugh will soon don his robes as a justice. The Supreme Court says he will be sworn in later Saturday.
In a statement, the court says Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the Constitutional Oath and retired Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy will administer the Judicial Oath in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court. Both oaths will be administered so Kavanaugh can participate in the work of the court immediately.
A formal investiture ceremony will take place at a special sitting of the court at a later date.
Saturday, October 6, 4:15 p.m.
President Donald Trump is hailing Brett Kavanaugh's ascension to the Supreme Court after an epic struggle to get him confirmed.
Trump tweets his congratulations and calls the Senate confirmation vote "very exciting!"
Saturday, October 6, 4 p.m.
The Senate has confirmed Brett Kavanaugh as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, putting a second nominee from President Donald Trump on the highest court in the land.
Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48 Saturday during a historic roll call vote in the Senate chamber. The two-vote margin is one of the narrowest ever for a Supreme Court nominee. The vote unfolded with protesters shouting from the gallery.
The vote closes out a bitter struggle over Kavanaugh's nomination, inflamed by accusations that he sexually assaulted women in the 1980s. Kavanaugh forcefully denied the accusations in sworn testimony.
Saturday, October 6, 3:55 p.m.
Protesters are disrupting the Senate's vote on Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Demonstrators began shouting "I do not consent" as the roll call on Kavanaugh began. Senators are seated at their desks for the vote.
When Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona cast his vote in favor of Kavanaugh, one protester shouted, "You're a coward Flake, a total coward!"
Vice President Pence, who is presiding, repeatedly called for the Senate sergeant-at-arms to restore order in the chamber. The protesters are being removed by gallery staff.
Saturday, October 6, 3:50 p.m.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is praising Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as "among the very best our nation has to offer."
The Kentucky Republican says Kavanaugh "unquestionably" deserves to be confirmed. He says the judge "will make the Senate and the country proud" as a member of the high court. The vote to confirm Kavanaugh as an associate justice began after McConnell's remarks.
Saturday, October 6, 3:45 p.m.
A roll call vote is under way in the Senate on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Senators are seated at their desks for the historic vote. If it succeeds, Kavanaugh will soon join the court as an associate justice.
Republicans control the Senate by a 51-49 margin, and the vote seems destined to be nearly party-line. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is the only Democrat expected to vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is opposed, but says she will vote "present" as a courtesy to another Republican who is out of town.
Saturday, October 6, 3:40 p.m.
Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer is decrying the expected confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court as "one of the saddest moments" in the history of the Senate and the U.S.
The New York Democrat criticized Kavanaugh in a Senate floor speech, saying he is a nominee "who doesn't belong on the nation's highest bench." He said Kavanaugh is an "extreme partisan" who disqualified himself with testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The vote to confirm Kavanaugh as an associate justice is expected to begin soon. Senators have been advised to be in their seats for the vote.
Kavanaugh is expected to win confirmation by a narrow margin. Republicans have a 51-49 majority in the chamber.
Schumer closed his speech saying Americans opposed to Kavanaugh's confirmation need to vote in the midterm election.
Saturday, October 6, 3:30 p.m.
President Donald Trump says he's looking forward to the Senate vote that's vote expected to confirm his second Supreme Court nominee.
Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a rally in Topeka, Kansas, that he thinks Brett Kavanaugh is "going to be a great Supreme Court justice for many years to come."
He's also praising Republican Sen. Susan Collins for the speech she delivered Friday announcing her support for the nominee.
And he says he thinks the week-long delay as the FBI investigated sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh was something positive. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Trump is expected to watch the vote play out from aboard Air Force One as he flies to Kansas.
He's says, "it's a very exciting time."
Saturday, October 6, 3 p.m.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley is giving his closing argument for the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Grassley is praising Kavanaugh's judicial independence in a speech on the Senate floor and he says the judge won't be beholden to the man who nominated him, President Donald Trump.
He accuses Democrats of doing "everything in their power" to make Kavanaugh's nomination about something other than his judicial record and qualifications.
Kavanaugh faced accusations of sexual misconduct from Christine Blasey Ford and other women. Ford testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teens. Kavanaugh forcefully denied the accusations.
The Senate is expected to vote soon to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Grassley says he's glad senators had the courage to "stand against the politics of personal destruction."
Saturday, October 6, 1:30 p.m.
A final vote has been set for Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.
The vote on confirming Kavanaugh as an associate justice will begin at roughly 3:30 p.m., and senators have been advised to be in their seats by the time the historic roll call begins.
Republicans control the Senate by a 51-49 margin, and Saturday's vote seems destined to be nearly party-line. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is the only Democrat expected to vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is opposed, but says she will vote "present" as a courtesy to another Republican who will be absent for his daughter's wedding.
A few hundred protesters are gathering outside the Capitol before the vote. A group of them climbed the Capitol steps, and some were led away by police.
Saturday, October 6, 1 p.m.
A large crowd has gathered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to protest Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.
Pumping their fists and carrying signs, a few hundred people climbed the east steps of the Capitol for the demonstration. The crowd has been chanting, "November is coming!" and "Vote them out!"
A much larger crowd of protesters is watching the demonstration from behind a barricade. In between, a line of Capitol police officers is standing with plastic handcuffs clipped to their belts.
The Senate is expected to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday, October 6, 11:25 a.m.
Deborah Ramirez says the Senate is "looking the other way" when it comes to her accusation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were students at Yale.
Ramirez says in a statement released by her lawyers that the FBI refused to speak to witnesses who could corroborate her story. She says senators are "deliberately ignoring" Kavanaugh's behavior.
The Senate is poised on Saturday to confirm Kavanaugh as an associate justice. The vote comes after Kavanaugh faced accusations of sexual misconduct from Ramirez and other women. Kavanaugh has denied the accusations.
The FBI interviewed Ramirez as part of a background check investigation opened by the White House. The Senate Judiciary Committee says the FBI also interviewed two alleged eyewitnesses to the incident named by Ramirez and one of her college friends.
Saturday, October 6, 10:15 a.m.
The Senate vote on confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is certain to be close, even if the outcome is no longer suspenseful. Enough senators have indicated they will support him Saturday to put him over the edge, with a likely margin of two votes. That's barring a last-minute change of mind.
But will the vote match the closest in history?
The closest confirmation votes for a Supreme Court nominee were decided by a single vote. In 1881, Justice Stanley Matthews prevailed in a vote of 24-23. In 1861, nominee Jeremiah Black was defeated by a vote of 26-25.
Among current justices, the confirmation of Clarence Thomas in 1991 was the closest, with a vote of 52-48. Eleven Democrats voted for Thomas, while two Republicans opposed his confirmation.
The vice president can vote in the event of a Senate tie. That's never happened in a Supreme Court confirmation.
Saturday, October 6, 9:30 a.m.
Melania Trump is offering some supportive words for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Here's what she tells reporters traveling with her in Egypt: "I think he's highly qualified for the Supreme Court."
The first lady is wrapping up a four-country tour of Africa.
Speaking to reporters near the Great Sphinx, she says she's glad that both Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, were heard.
Without weighing in on the sexual assault allegations that Ford leveled against Kavanaugh, Mrs. Trump says victims of "any kind of abuse or violence" must be helped. Kavanaugh denies the accusation.
The Senate is expected to confirm Kavanaugh on Saturday.
Saturday, October 6,8 a.m.
Democrats don't seem to have the votes to keep Brett Kavanaugh from joining the Supreme Court, but that's not stopping them from taking to the Senate floor in a parade of speeches into the early morning against the conservative jurist.
Hours before the expected roll call vote that would elevate the appeals court judge to the nation's highest court, Democrats are making clear their strong opposition.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York says there's one fundamental question for senators when they decide Kavanaugh's fate: "Do we, as a country, value women?"
Gillibrand says women who've experienced sexual trauma are "tired of the same old scenario where the men are believed and the women are not."
Allegations against Kavanaugh arose late in the confirmation process that he sexually abused women decades ago. He's emphatically denied the accusations.
Gillibrand says that after the way Anita Hill was treated by the Senate during the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991, "we said it would never happen again. But it did."
Saturday, October 6, 12:30 a.m.
Brett Kavanaugh seems assured of surviving a Supreme Court nomination fight for the ages after two wavering senators said they'd back him.
The announcements Friday by Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia came after weeks of shocking accusations, hardball politics and Capitol protests.
Their support makes Saturday's vote to confirm Kavanaugh an apparent formality after a battle that riveted the nation for nearly a month.
Republicans control the Senate by a 51-49 margin, and Saturday's roll call vote seems destined to be nearly party-line, with just a single defector from each side.
The vote caps a contest fought against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement and President Donald Trump's unyielding support of his Supreme Court nominee.