Oct 6, 2018

Kavanaugh confirmed to Supreme Court

Judge Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in before testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court this afternoon by a 50-48 vote, ending one of the most bitter confirmation battles in decades. He was sworn in hours later as protesters denounced the vote.

The big picture: The atmosphere in the Capitol has been poisonous for the past few weeks. Everyone was angry, and everyone was stressed. Police even set up barricades around the Capitol building toward the end of the week, which is highly unusual. And protesters disrupted the final vote several times — another sign of the deep emotions unleashed by the brutal fight.

"This is an institution where the evidence and the facts matter. This is the chamber in which the politics of intimidation and personal destruction do not win the day."
— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
"His partisan screed will go down ignominiously in history and made it clear it would be virtually impossible for him to rule impartially on the Supreme Court."
— Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Here's what it was like at the Capitol before the vote:

  • There was extra Capitol police presence for much of the week. Protesters gathered around the building and in front of the Supreme Court, mostly to protest Kavanaugh and to advocate for believing women.
  • The tension was even greater than it was during last year's health care fight.
  • For political reporters, the game of the week was speculating what Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Flake and Joe Manchin were going to do based on brief hallway interviews and political speculation.
  • On Friday morning, a shirtless, shoeless man holding an anti-abortion sign stood in front of the Senate side of the Capitol advocating against abortion and arguing with liberal, presumably pro-choice protesters about whether women's rights or the rights of the unborn are more important.
  • It was difficult for anyone to think about much else beyond the Supreme Court fight. President Trump's new trade deal and the New York Times investigation of his taxes barely made a ripple, and members most involved in the fight were completely swamped by reporters whenever they made the walk from their offices to the Capitol. 

The bottom line: The barricades will come down, but the genuine anger among Senate colleagues — and around the country — will last long after today's vote.

This post has been updated to note that Kavanaugh has been sworn in.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 1,237,420 — Total deaths: 67,260 — Total recoveries: 252,944Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 312,762 — Total deaths: 9.132 — Total recoveries: 15,044Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. Work update: Employees still going to work face temperature checks, distanced work stations, protective devices and mass absences.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Cuomo says New York is "literally going day-to-day with our supplies"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference on Sunday that New York is struggling to maintain medical supplies while combatting the novel coronavirus — operating "literally" on a "day-to-day" basis.

Why it matters: New York City has become an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, facing mass quarantines and stay-at-home orders. Cuomo said Saturday that New York reported 630 new deaths in 24 hours — an "all-time increase" that beat the previous day's record of 562 deaths.

Illinois governor: "The president does not understand the word 'federal'"

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that President Trump's comments about the federal government's stockpile of medical equipment suggest he "does not understand the word 'federal.'"

Why it matters: White House adviser Jared Kushner argued at a press briefing last week that the "notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile; it’s not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use."