Beyond the sexual misconduct allegations, Democrats raised questions about Kavanaugh's temperament and impartiality after he delivered defiant, emotional testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee where he denounced their party. Protesters were also heard shouting from the Senate gallery during the roll call.
In a sense it would reflect a high water mark of the Trump presidency: Republican control of the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the judiciary's top court.
Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a fellow moderate and a friend of Collins, became the only Republican to say she opposed Kavanaugh.
On the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that "nothing could get Democrats to consider this nominee with an open mind".
Christine Blasey Ford's legal team has released a statement from her friend Keith Koegler, who provided an account that appears to corroborate Ford's testimony accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not interview him.
Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice Saturday evening in Washington after an extraordinarily fraught nomination that sparked angry protests, nail-biting votes and a national reckoning about sexual assault allegations and who should be believed.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (KEER'-sten JIHL'-uh-brand) of NY says there's one fundamental question for senators when they decide Kavanaugh's fate: "Do we, as a country, value women?"
Noisy to the end, the Senate battle featured a call of the roll that was interrupted several times by protesters shouting in the spectators' gallery before Capitol Police removed them.
Even so, Collins said she hopes the ugly fight over Kavanaugh's confirmation will raise awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual assault. If confirmed, Kavanaugh could tip the court's balance toward conservatives for a generation. Kavanaugh denies the accusation.
All but one Republican lined up behind him, arguing that a truncated FBI investigation turned up no corroborating witnesses and that Kavanaugh had sterling credentials for the court.
"Republicans are saying: 'Your voices just don't matter, '" Sen.
In a twist, Murkowski said she would state her opposition but vote "present" as a courtesy to Kavanaugh supporter Sen. That would let Kavanaugh win by the same two-vote margin he'd have received had both senators voted.
As the Senate tried to recover from its charged atmosphere, Murkowski's move offered a moment of civility. "I would say if we're talking about the Supreme Court and Judge Kavanaugh, I think he's highly qualified for the Supreme Court", Mrs. Trump said while speaking to reporters in Egypt during a solo worldwide trip to Africa.
On Friday, after the nomination cleared a key procedural hurdle with a 51-49 vote, two previously undecided senators, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced they would support Kavanaugh.
The vote to confirm Kavanaugh, when it comes, will reconcile a cause that has unified and electrified the conservative movement dating to its rebirth as a modern political force led by former President Ronald Reagan.
After the vote, the president called Kavanaugh to congratulate him, the White House said in a statement.
He voted to advance the nominee, then told reporters that barring any dramatic changes, he will vote yes on Mr Kavanaugh's confirmation.
Gillibrand says that after the way Anita Hill was treated by the Senate during the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991, "we said it would never happen again".
Ford, the 51-year-old research psychologist and professor who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers in the 1980s, believes she "did the right thing" in coming foward, according to her attorneys.
While Democrats' defeat was all but certain, the Senate remained in session overnight, though the chamber was mostly empty. "We have a lot of work to do".