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After weeks of debate within the Senate as well as widespread protests outside of it, Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

At a hearing marked by bitter partisan acrimony, Kavanaugh was forced to defend himself against an allegation of sexual assault dating back to when he was a teenager. "We stood up for the presumption of innocence".

The FBI sent Congress documents detailing additional interviews about Kavanaugh that the agency conducted at the request of some Republican and Democratic senators.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY called the fight "a sorry epilogue to the brazen theft of Justice Scalia's seat".

"Change must come from where change in America always begins: the ballot box", he said.

The justices themselves made a quiet show of solidarity.

That means Kavanaugh could be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by the end of the weekend.

Still, Justice Kagan noted the night before that Justice Kennedy has been "a person who found the center" and "it's not so clear we'll have that" now.

Trump said the protesters were not genuine, but had been paid by liberal political donors and that his party would prevail in November when one-third of the Senate seats and all House seats will be up for election. Vice President Mike Pence presided over the roll call, his potential tie-breaking vote unnecessary.

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Trump is seeking a legacy as the president who put a strongly conservative stamp on the court.

"The moving testimony of Dr. Ford - and the indifference of Republican elected officials - have wounded women across the country".

Giving evidence to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh launched an impassioned defence of his conduct and character after being accused of sexually assaulting Professor Christine Blasey Ford at a high school party in 1982 when she was 15 and he was 17.

The lone Republican to oppose the nomination was Murkowski, who told reporters that while she believes Kavanaugh is "a good man", she also felt the confirmation process had become about something "bigger than a nominee".

About 100 anti-Kavanaugh protesters climbed the Capitol's East Steps as the vote approached, pumping fists and waving signs.

Trump watched the confirmation vote on a large-screen television tuned to Fox News in a wood-paneled cabin on the plane.

As one of just two Republican women in the Senate who favour abortion rights - Collins is the other - and an opponent of the Republican push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act previous year, Murkowski was seen as one of a handful of senators who could vote either way on Kavanaugh, even before the allegations against him emerged publicly in September.

She and the other lawyers on the team have complained about the Senate's handling of her allegation, and about the FBI's quick investigation into it. Agents did not find any corroboration, though Ms. Blasey Ford's team says they didn't talk to enough people. Democrats dismissed the truncated report as insufficient.

When Sen. Jeff Flake cast his vote in favor of Kavanaugh, one protester shouted, "You're a coward Flake, a total coward!"

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Once again, Lisa Murkowski was all alone.

Time's Up, a movement to help victims of workplace sexual harassment created by women in Hollywood after allegations of misconduct against Harvey Weinstein and others, also posted a statement on Twitter following the decision. That balanced out the absence without affecting the outcome, and gave Mr. Kavanaugh the same two-vote margin he'd have received had both lawmakers voted.

As the Senate tried to recover from its charged atmosphere, Ms. Murkowski's move offered a moment of civility.

"I do not believe that those charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court", Collins said.

Democrats had never been particularly happy with Kavanaugh, who was a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A final confirmation vote is expected Saturday afternoon.

At the White House, press secretary Sarah Sanders reacted with jubilation. As the New York Times' Maggie Haberman pointed out, the anger from Democrats might outlast the "high" from Republicans.

"You don't want those people in office, folks", he said, referring to Sens.

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