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The US Senate is expected to confirm conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice on Saturday.

Brett Kavanaugh, shown here testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee, is expected to be confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice in a Senate vote (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File / WIN MCNAMEE)


The US Senate is expected to confirm conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice on Saturday -- offering President Donald Trump a big political win and tilting the nation's high court decidedly to the right.

The months-long battle over Kavanaugh's nomination has gripped Washington, laying bare the partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill and the political polarization of America just a month before midterm elections.

The Senate vote, set to begin from 3:30 pm (1930 GMT), will bring an end to a raucous nomination process defined by harrowing testimony from a woman who says Kavanaugh tried to rape her when they were teenagers -- and his fiery rebuttal.

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Trump will have succeeded in having his two picks seated on the court -- a major coup for the Republican leader less than halfway through his term.

His promotion to the Supreme Court will also stand as a demoralizing defeat for Democrats who battled hard to block the 53-year-old judge at all costs.

Kavanaugh's confirmation was all but sealed on Friday when he won the support of key Senate Republican Susan Collins and conservative Democrat Joe Manchin.

The decision by Republican Senator Susan Collins to support Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh helped tip the scales in his favor (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / ALEX WONG)

Their statements of support brought the number of senators supporting Kavanaugh to 51 in the 100-member chamber.

"This is a great day for America," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News late Friday, congratulating his colleagues for "refusing to roll over under all of this intense pressure."

- 'Presumption of innocence' -


Kavanaugh's nomination as a replacement for retiring justice Anthony Kennedy was controversial from the start -- but the initial focus was solely on the conservative views held by the married father of two.

But his ascent to the Supreme Court was thrown into doubt last week after university research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford testified that he had sexually assaulted her at a Washington area party in the early 1980s.

The brutal hearing sparked a supplemental FBI dive into Kavanaugh's background and a week-long delay of the Senate vote.

While many senators say they were satisfied with the FBI probe, her lawyers say the investigation was insufficient.

"An FBI investigation that did not include interviews of Dr Ford and Judge Kavanaugh is not a meaningful investigation in any sense of the word," they said in a statement quoted in US media.

Collins -- a moderate Republican from Maine -- said Kavanaugh was entitled to the "presumption of innocence" as the allegations against him were not substantiated with corroborating evidence.



By AFP
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