Brett Kavanaugh sworn in as 114th Supreme Court justice

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (KEER'-sten JIHL'-uh-brand) of NY says there's one fundamental question for senators when they decide Kavanaugh's fate: "Do we, as a country, value women?"

Kavanaugh's confirmation was thrown into doubt after a tense Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in which Christine Blasey Ford alleged the Supreme Court nominee had sexually assaulted her when they were in high school in the 1980s.

Feinstein has denied that her office leaked the letter containing Ford's accusation, but the senator has faced scrutiny over the optics of the allegation becoming public just as Kavanaugh appeared to be on track for a smooth confirmation.

Friday's announcements of support by Republican Susan Collins of ME and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia made the final confirmation vote a formality, though still an emotional one. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski described her decision to oppose Kavanaugh as "agonizing", and said that while she hopes he will be a "neutral arbiter" on the court, she "could not conclude that he is the right person for the court at this time". As moderates who support abortion rights, their joint opposition could have been enough to sink Kavanaugh, whose nomination was thrust into uncertainty following sexual assault allegations.

"Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting "YES" to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!" the President tweeted, moments after the final tally became official. "Brett is a brilliant jurist who has faithfully applied the Constitution and laws throughout his 12 years on the D.C. Circuit".

He also says how senators vote on Judge Kavanaugh will likely play a part in the outcome of that election.

"Believe me I struggled with it for a long time", Collins said after her speech.

Based on the initial votes, Kavanaugh is expected to be confirmed for the lifetime appointment after final votes are cast on Saturday.

Murkowski said she was displeased with the nomination process and felt that disrespect to Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, had gotten out of hand.

Kavanaugh's confirmation vote is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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Hamas claimed responsibility for the West Bank murder, setting off a mass Israeli response against the group. It killed more than 2,000 Palestinians in just seven weeks.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders thanked Collins for "standing by your convictions and doing the right thing", while former president George HW Bush saluted her "political courage and class".

Kavanaugh was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy Saturday evening. Flake announced Friday morning that he would support Kavanaugh's confirmation, reiterating his statement of support the previous week.

"I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been", Kavanaugh wrote in the Journal.

Some 164 people were arrested, most for demonstrating on the Capitol steps, 14 for disrupting the Senate's roll call vote. Manchin faces extraordinary political pressure. Joe Manchin said he, too, would back Kavanaugh, ensuring at least 51 "yes" votes in the Senate.

Protesters occupy the Senate Hart building during a rally against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Thursday.

A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll showed in fact that the Republicans have narrowed the enthusiasm gap with Democrats in the past few weeks.

When it came to Ford's allegations, she said the evidence did not preclude the notion that she had been assaulted at a party on the night in question or elsewhere.

"Therefore I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court". However, based on all of the information I have available to me, including the recently completed Federal Bureau of Investigation report, I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him.

Koegler identified himself as a close friend of Ford and her husband, saying he has known them for more than five years and had coached their son's baseball team.

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