The smart money now says Brett Kavanaugh will be the next Supreme Court justice. That became evident Friday afternoon when the Democrats' last big hope, Republican Susan Collins, announced that she would vote yes on confirmation, reports the Washington Post. After her announcement, Democrat Joe Manchin, another swing vote, said he would do the same. The math now looks hopeless for Democrats ahead of Saturday's expected vote, even with Republican Susan Collins voting against Kavanaugh. All this comes after Friday morning's decision to end debate and move toward a final vote. Details and developments:
- The math: Kavanaugh supporters won Friday's procedural vote by a narrow 51-49 margin, and Democrats would need to flip two of those yes votes into no's in order to stop the nomination. A tie wouldn't cut it for Democrats because VP Mike Pence is the tie-breaker. That put the focus on the swing votes of Collins, Murkowski, and Jeff Flake, all Republicans, along with Democrat Manchin.
- Flake: The Arizona Republican voted yes on Friday's procedural matter, and he says he plans to vote in favor of Kavanaugh on Saturday "unless something big changed," reports Politico. But, he added, "I don't see what would."
- Collins: She gave a 45-minute speech from the Senate floor in which she talked about the Kavanaugh allegations and the confirmation process. "I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court," Collins said, per Politico. "I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh."
- Murkowski: She was the only Republican to break ranks Friday and vote against moving Kavanaugh's nomination forward. "I believe that Brett Kavanaugh is a good man," but perhaps "not the right man for the court at this time," the Alaska Republican told reporters, per NBC News. The comments suggest Murkowski is a firm "no" on Saturday, though the New York Times reports that Republicans were pressuring her to change her mind. Now it likely won't be necessary.
- Manchin: He's the only Democrat who voted yes on Kavanaugh Friday, and fellow Democrats hoped to change his mind on Saturday. But Manchin announced Friday afternoon that he would vote for the "qualified jurist," reports the AP. Even if he flips and votes no, that would lead only to a 50-50 tie, which Pence would break in favor of Kavanaugh. As the Washington Post notes, Manchin serves red-state West Virginia, and he's in a tough re-election race.
- Palin to Murkowski: "Hey @LisaMurkowski — I can see 2022 from my house," tweeted the former Alaska governor in regard to the Alaska senator's "no" vote on Kavanaugh. Palin urged Alaskans to make Murkowski pay for the decision when she's up for re-election.
- Bad timing: GOP Sen. Steve Daines of Montana has a big conflict on Saturday: He has to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding in Montana. Republicans could hold the vote open for Daines if his vote is needed to push Kavanaugh over the top, but the senator tells the AP that he will fly back to DC by private jet if he's needed. Daines says Montana congressman Greg Gianforte, a fellow Republican, has offered up his plane.
- The tea leaves: "It’s theoretically possible that some combination of Collins, Flake, and Manchin could still change their mind between now and the final vote," observes Josh Voorhees at Slate. But "the writing is on the wall."
- A suggestion: An op-ed in the Hill says the Kavanaugh drama illustrates one thing that should be evident to both parties: It's time to amend the Constitution and institute term limits for Supreme Court justices, writes law professor Alan Morrison of George Washington University. He suggests 18-year terms.
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