USA

Kavanaugh’s appointment galvanises both sides

It took months to get here – but within hours of the vote, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in to the highest court in the land.

He could not escape the sound of dissent outside though or even physically leave the building. Protesters stormed the steps of the Supreme Court – banging on the door in indignation.

For so many, this was personal. In the crowd everyone had a story to share. Some women wept as they recalled their own experiences of surviving sexual assault. Two gay men recently married, looked forlornly as they discussed the potential impact of the appointment on gay rights.

This was a visceral reaction to a polarising episode in American history that has only crystallised as a result of this contentious process.

Image: Judge Kavanaugh being sworn in. Pic: Fred Schilling, Collection of the US Supreme Court

Both sides are claiming they have been galvanised by the battle. One-half of the chamber saw the vote as a victory against mob rule, the other as a moral disgrace.

The question is what midterm voters will decide. One thing is for certain, this was a stunning victory for Donald Trump and the culmination of his most successful week yet as president.

In less than two years he has delivered two Supreme Court justices and cemented his legacy amongst conservatives – delivering a dream that's been decades in the making.

Those who voted for him despite some reservations about his tenor and tone will feel vindicated.

President Trump signs the commission appointing Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court while on board Air Force One
Image: President Trump signs the commission appointing Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court while on board Air Force One

Everyone knew what was coming before the "yeas" and "nos" were even uttered. In the basement of the Senate offices, I spoke to jubilant Republicans and devastated Democrats.

As Senator Richard Blumenthal emerged, he told me: "The FBI investigation was a whitewash."

There is little sign of olive branches being extended. Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing will be a rallying cry from the political pulpit throughout the next two months. It could be a deciding factor in who ends up controlling the Senate and House.

Each side want to keep the story in the news for political purposes. Senior Republicans are already talking to me about the "Brett bounce". There is talk among top Democrats that impeachment, however impractical, will become a 2020 applause line.

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Video: Protesters brought Kavanaugh's Senate hearing to a temporary standstill

Meanwhile, the newcomer to the bench has the rest of his life left to try to shape it. Abortion rights, gun control and healthcare reform are all past, present and future fault lines. Judge Kavanaugh is just one of nine justices, but he will dominate debate.

As night falls, I meet a group of Christian women who have spent the past few days in Washington trying to be seen and heard.

More from Brett Kavanaugh

"He is man of integrity," Annabel tells me and "he has an impeccable professional record". That voting record, they say, does not even represent everything they want.

The county must now sit and wait to see exactly where a man accused of sexual misconduct, really sits.

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