Key swing vote Sen. Lisa Murkowski didn't decide how to vote on Kavanaugh until she walked onto the Senate floor, says 'he's not the right man for the court at this time'

  • Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she didn’t decide to vote against advancing Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination until she reached the Senate chambers on Friday.
  • Murkowski broke with her party as the only one of four key swing votes to oppose advancing his nomination.
  • A final confirmation vote is set for Saturday afternoon.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski told reporters on Friday that she didn’t decide to vote against advancing Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination until she reached the Senate chambers that morning.

Murkowski broke with her party as the only one of four key swing votes to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination. She said it was an effort to uphold the ideal of a fair confirmation process for justices.

“I have been wrestling to really try to know what is fair and what is right,” Murkowski said. “And the truth is that none of this has been fair.”

The Alaska senator specified that her vote wasn’t a personal rebuke of the embattled Supreme Court nominee, who she said she believes is a “good man.”

“In my view,” she continued, “he’s not the right man for the court at this time.”

Murkowski called her decision, which she quietly announced in the chamber after other swing votes had announced they would vote in favour of Kavanaugh, “the most difficult evaluation of a decision that I’ve ever had to make.”

“I value and respect where my colleagues have come down from in their support for the judge,” Murkowski said. “And I think we’re at a place where we need to begin thinking about the credibility and integrity of our institutions.”

Friday’s vote concerned issues that “are bigger than the nominee” and are necessary for fully functioning legislative and judicial branches, Murkowski said. The moderate Republican previously expressed support for the additional background check the FBI concluded a day earlier into allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.

“If people who are victims, people who feel that there is no fairness in our system of government, particularly in our courts, then you’ve gone down a path that is not good and right for this country,” she said.

Conservative commentators hit back against Murkowski’s vote. The Fox News host Laura Ingraham said the “disgraceful” decision “abandoned all principles of due process and fairness.”

Sen. Joe Manchin was the only Democrat to vote in favour of advancing the nomination. Sen. Jeff Flake, another conservative swing vote, said Friday that he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh. Republican Sen. Susan Collins is expected to announce her vote Friday afternoon.

The Friday cloture vote limits further debate and Democrats’ ability to filibuster the final vote.

With a 51-49 hold on the Senate, Republicans can afford to lose only one vote in the final confirmation tally, set for Saturday afternoon.

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