Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith join Democrats in vote against advancing Brett Kavanaugh
WASHINGTON — Minnesota Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith voted against moving toward a final Senate vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh on Friday, joining with all but one of their Democratic colleagues.
Senate Republicans narrowly passed the “cloture” motion that ends debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination, a procedural move that opens the path to a final vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Saturday.
Klobuchar, who sparred with Kavanaugh at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, did not speak before the cloture vote. In a statement afterward, she said she has “serious concerns about the [Kavanaugh’s] unprecedented, expansive views of presidential power, his previous statements on campaign finance that would undermine existing limits on dark money in our politics, and his opinions that could limit health care. He has also written several opinions that would hurt consumers like those that would strike down net neutrality rules and weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that has already returned $12 billion to Americans including victims of fraud.”
Smith expressed concern with Kavanaugh’s judicial positions. “From the beginning, I’ve said I’m voting against the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh because his record shows he’s far outside the mainstream of legal thought,” Smith said in a statement immediately after the vote. “His decisions on issues like voting rights, the environment, and his unsettling view that the president is above the law demonstrate that he is not the kind of justice our country needs. And what I’ve seen from him over the last few weeks has only strengthened my conviction that he should not serve on the highest court in the land.”
Senators will debate Kavanaugh’s nomination on the floor on Friday and Saturday, with Judiciary Committee members likely to play a prominent role in back-and-forth.
The 51-49 vote on Friday saw Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia vote with Republicans and Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska vote with Democrats.
The vote to end debate came after an hour of finger-pointing by Senate Republican and Democratic leaders. Republicans accused Democrats of trying to destroy a qualified nominee with unsubstantiated rumors of sexual assault while in high school and college. Democrats countered with charges that Kavanaugh’s alleged attacks on two women had not been sufficiently investigated and that the judge had been evasive and sometimes not truthful in answering questions about his judicial record regarding women’s reproductive rights and gun control.
Kavanaugh’s angry rebuttal to the allegations against him and accusations of partisanship against Judiciary Committee Democrats, including Klobuchar, also caused Democrats to question his judicial temperament.
As debate worked its way toward conclusion, Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois focused on Kavanaugh’s answer to a question from Klobuchar, whose father was an alcoholic, about whether the judge had ever blacked out from drinking. Kavanaugh’s answer to Klobuchar — “Have you?” — showed a cruel, partisan streak, Durbin said, and lack of composure and fairness.
Jim Spencer • 202-662-7432