His nomination was thrown into turmoil in the three weeks preceding the vote after university professor Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a suburban Washington house party more than three decades ago when both were teenagers. Kavanaugh's new benchmates will include Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who's praised the "Me Too" movement of women coming forward to say they were the subjects of sexual misconduct, as well as Justice Clarence Thomas, whose 1991 nomination nearly failed in the face of sexual harassment allegations.
"On behalf of the nation, I'd like to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the awful pain and suffering you've been forced to endure", Trump said, acknowledging that his words were "unusual".
On Monday, Trump kept up attacks on Democrats for opposing Kavanaugh, pressing on an issue that Republicans have used to energize their voters.
Senator McConnell called the current partisan divide a "low point", but he blamed Democrats.
In her speech announcing support for the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, Maine Sen. I mean, who would have thought a thing like that could have happened, what he's been through? Trump, who is scheduled to administer another swearing in for Kavanaugh at a ceremonial function at the White House, told reporters that the conduct of the Democrats during the entire nomination process was disgraceful.
Ultimately, every Democrat voted against Kavanaugh except for Sen.
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Speaking at a White House ceremony, Kavanaugh said: "Although the Senate confirmation process tested me as it has tested others, it did not change me". During his 30 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy was a wild card who sometimes frustrated liberals and progressives with his pro-corporate rulings (most notably, Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission) yet often voted with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when it came to abortion and gay rights-and the Christian Right detested him for having that libertarian streak.
And before long, the court could be confronted with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by Trump.
"Putting strict constructionists, relatively young, on the courts for lifetime appointments is the best way to have a long-term positive impact on America", McConnell said, "And today is a seminal moment in that effort". Yet Kavanaugh is joining under a cloud.
Media captionTrump: "The main base of the Democrats have shifted so far left we'll end up being Venezuela".
Republicans now hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate, with several seats up for grabs in November.
"You've seen some shifts, but I still think that we're in a strong place", said New Mexico Rep.
He did not cite "tradition going back to the 1880s" but noted that Joe Biden, when he was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1992, said action on a Supreme Court nominee should be postponed until after an election "once the political season is underway".