Senator Susan Collins announced Friday afternoon she would vote to confirm Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, ensuring the bitter, months-long fight over the nominee will end tomorrow with Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
In a lengthy speech on the Senate floor, Collins argued that while the eleventh-hour sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh were plausible, they did not meet the necessary standards of evidence to overcome Kavanaugh’s right to the presumption of innocence. Collins said that she found the testimony of accuser Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the Supreme Court last week, to be "sincere, painful, and compelling," but also pointed out that her story was denied by Kavanaugh and not corroborated by any other potential witnesses.
"The four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events of that evening gathering where she says the assault occurred," she said.
She added: “We will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting as it may be. When passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy.”
Collins also said she rejected Democratic arguments that Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy was outside the mainstream, pointing to his track record on the D.C. Circuit Court of honoring Supreme Court precedent.
“It is up to each senator to decide what the Constitution’s ‘advice and consent’ duty means,” Collins said. “Informed by Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist 76, I have interpreted this to mean that the president has broad discretion to consider a nominee’s philosophy, whereas my duty as a senator is to focus on the nominee’s qualifications as long as that nominee’s philosophy is within the mainstream of judicial thought.”
Immediately following Collins’s speech, Democrat Joe Manchin announced he too would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, making him the only Democrat to do so. The support of both Collins and Manchin means that Senate Republicans can proceed with the confirmation vote Saturday, despite the fact that Montana Senator Steve Daines will miss the vote to attend his daughter’s wedding.