The Latest: Vote set for Kavanaugh confirmation

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (all times local):

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.


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.


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.


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.


9:30 a.m.

Melania (meh-LAH’-nee-ah) 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 (BLAH’-zee) 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.


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 (KEER’-sten JIHL’-uh-brand) 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.”


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.

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