Southwest Virginia reacts to controversial confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Justice Kavanaugh privately sworn in over the weekend

ROANOKE, Va. – People across Southwest Virginia are reacting to the Senate’s narrow confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This comes after a tight Senate vote and a private swearing in over the weekend.

It was a bitter fight between Democrats and Republicans with the narrowest Senate confirmation in nearly a century and a half: 50 to 48.

Despite sexual assault allegations and an FBI investigation, Kavanaugh will take the Supreme Court bench Tuesday morning. People across the country have protested against this. The issue is impacting people in our area too.

"They’re probably very disappointed this morning and feeling disempowered and their voice is not heard. Their voices were heard. They were heard," said Teresa Berry, executive director of Sexual Assault Response and Awareness, or SARA.

Berry works with sexual assault victims every day, but said she's seen a change since the confirmation hearing.

"Our hotline numbers are way up, our calls for service are up and it's not just the numbers, it's the nature of the calls. People are calling specifically saying, 'This has triggered me,' or 'This has reminded me,' or 'I never told anyone. I'd like to do that now,'" Berry said.

On the other side, many are happy to see the Supreme Court vacancy filled and the dramatic confirmation process come to a close.

"I think it reflects the political divisions in the country, but it also reflects the effectiveness, when the chips are really down, the effectiveness of Donald Trump getting what he wants," 10 News political analyst Dr. Ed Lynch said.

Lynch said the move from judge to justice is fuel for both sides in the upcoming midterms.

"Both sides were angry three days ago. Democrats are still angry. Republicans have less reason to be angry. The question for Republicans is whether or not they can channel that anger over the process and over what they see as character defamation three weeks or more into Election Day," Lynch said.

When Kavanaugh takes his seat on the bench Tuesday, he'll begin hearing cases on immigration, asbestos exposure and firearms.

Lynch said he thinks Kavanaugh could have a huge impact on voting rights.

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