UPDATE – Senate confirms Kavanaugh to top US court

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By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – The Senate voted largely along party lines Saturday to narrowly confirm U.S. President Donald Trump's pick to America's top court, cementing a conservative majority on the bench for the foreseeable future.

The 50-48 vote saw Senator Lisa Murkowski being the sole Republican to break ranks with the party, voting present instead of casting a vote for or against Brett Kavanaugh. Republican Senator Joe Manchin joined with the rest of the Republicans to support the judge.

Republicans had a narrow needle to thread, holding only a one seat majority in the chamber amid mass controversy over Kavanaugh and the sexual assault allegations from at least three women, most notably from Christine Blasey Ford who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in late September, detailing Kavanaugh's alleged high school sexual assault in the 1980s in which she said she feared for her life.

Shortly after the vote, Trump embraced the Senate's approval, saying on Twitter, "I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court. Later today, I will sign his Commission of Appointment, and he will be officially sworn in. Very exciting!"

But not all were as enthusiastic about Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Dozens of protesters attempted to march up the Capitol's east steps, with some being arrested by Capitol Police amid chants of "no justice, no peace."

Kavanaugh's nomination, made in early July, has been dogged by controversy capped by Ford's oftentimes emotional testimony, and Kavanaugh's later fiery refutation in which he viscerally clashed with the Judiciary Committee's Democrats.

Trump and most Republicans have ardently stood behind Kavanaugh, who is replacing retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, the longtime centrist jurist.

With Kavanaugh's confirmation, the bench now solidly leans 5-4 to the right, losing a swing vote in favor of a justice with an established track record of conservative jurisprudence.

Kavanaugh is Trump's second confirmed Supreme Court pick, after Neil Gorsuch who took his seat in April.

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