Brett Kavanaugh, who has been embroiled in controversy over decades-old sexual assault allegations, was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate Saturday in a 50-48 vote.
Trump officially tapped Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court pick on July 9 – less than two weeks after Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the bench. Since then, several women, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations.
After an FBI investigation into the allegations, Trump continued to voice support for Kavanaugh. On Saturday, he congratulated Kavanaugh on his approval in a tweet and said he would sign his commission of appointment later the same day.
From how the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing works to the actual vote, read on for a look at how the confirmation process works.
Once the president announces his nomination to the Court, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing for the nominee to provide testimony and answer questions. This hearing can take multiple days.
After the hearing, the committee will vote, and it typically recommends the nominee to the full Senate for a vote. The committee can give a favorable or unfavorable recommendation – or none at all.
In 1991, Justice Clarence Thomas was sent to the Senate for a vote without a recommendation – favorable or not – from the Judiciary Committee. Robert Bork was sent to the full floor with an unfavorable recommendation in 1987; the full Senate ultimately did not confirm him.
For the Supreme Court nominee to be confirmed, he or she needs to receive a simple majority of 51 votes.
But this wasn’t always the case.
Senate Republicans deployed the so-called “nuclear option” in 2017 to ensure Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the nation’s highest court. This changed the rules, allowing a nominee to be confirmed with only 51 votes instead of 60.
Currently, there are 51 Republican senators and 49 Democrats (which includes two independents who caucus with Senate Democrats).
If there is a tie on the Senate floor, the vice president would break it, and he would be more than likely vote for Trump’s nominee.
President signs off
The final step in the confirmation process involves approval from the president.
Once the Supreme Court nominee is confirmed by the Senate, the president must issue a written commission to his nominee. Afterward, the nominee needs to be sworn in – taking two oaths of office – before assuming his official position on the nation’s highest court.
Fox News’ Judson Berger, John Roberts and The Associated Press have contributed to this report.
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