Brown, Portman plan to vote along party lines on Kavanaugh

Posted at 9:22 PM, Sep 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 21:27:19-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- If a surprise swing vote upends Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's already chaotic confirmation process in the Senate, it won't come from Ohio.

By the end of Thursday's nine-hour hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the embattled Kavanaugh had sobbed, shouted and aggressively fired back at the senators questioning him about a sexual assault alleged to have occurred during his high school years.

Accuser Christine Blasey Ford, who claims Kavanaugh once held her to a bed, attempted to remove her clothes and covered her mouth when she tried to scream, had given a soft-spoken but emotional account of the incident and its impact on her life.

Both testified the political firestorm surrounding the allegations had irreparably altered their lives and put their families through Hell.

Did it tip the scales? Change any minds? Maybe, but those minds didn't belong to Sherrod Brown or Rob Portman.

Democrat Brown and Republican Portman, who will both vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation alongside the rest of the Senate if the committee decides to move forward with the nomination, announced in Thursday night statements they planned to vote along party lines. 

"Dr. Ford's courage is inspiring and I am very grateful to her for coming forward to tell her story, even in the face of deep personal cost. She was moving, heartfelt and honest," Brown wrote. "While I had already decided not to support Judge Kavanaugh based on his history of siding with corporations and Wall Street over workers, Dr. Ford's testimony today was a powerful moment for our country." 

In a longer statement, Portman said he believed sexual assault "should be taken very seriously," but Ford failed to present compelling evidence that the assault had actually happened. He also said his own close friendship with the Kavanaugh family gave him the perspective he needed to continue supporting the nomination. 

"The Brett Kavanaugh I know is a man of integrity and humility," Portman wrote. "He also has the right qualifications and experience to serve on the Supreme Court. In fact, the American Bar Association has given him their highest rating, unanimously. I support his confirmation."

If Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court by a majority Senate vote, replacing frequent swing-voter Anthony Kennedy with a more consistently conservative voice, Republicans will cement a majority that could last for decades. 

Like many issues in the Trump era, the prospect of Kavanaugh's confirmation has become a fraught one; its failure or success likely rests on a handful of Republican senators, including Maine's Susan Collins, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski and Arizona's Jeff Flake, who have been known to sometimes resist the direction of their party. 

Republicans hold the Senate by a narrow 51-49. If one Senator defects to the ‘no' votes, Vice President Mike Pence can break the tie in his role as president of the Senate. If two do, however, Kavanaugh's candidacy ends.