Republicans are pushing to vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court on September 28, after hearing dramatic testimony from him and Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, who is accusing him of assault.
President DonaldTrump has urged the Senate – where Republicans have a majority – to vote.
This is expected next week, although the outcome is far from certain with a number of senators on both sides undecided.
The American Bar Association has called for a delay of the vote to allow the FBI to investigate the claims by Christine Blasey Ford and other women.
The Supreme Court plays a vital role in political life – appointed for life, its nine members have the final say on US law.
This includes highly contentious social issues, such as abortion, and challenges to government policy.
Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment would tilt the balance in favor of conservatives for years to come.
For this reason, Republicans accuse the Democrats of seeking to delay the confirmation until after the mid-term elections in November when they hope to win enough seats to stop it altogether.
The hearing, which lasted for nine hours, brought an outpouring of support for Christine Blasey Ford – a university professor – from the #MeToo movement against harassment and assault.
President Donald Trump’s nominee, at times emotional and angry, denied assaulting Christine Blasey Ford when they were teenagers.
The 51-year-old, close to tears, described the incident in detail saying it had “drastically” affected her life.
Prior to September 27, no-one had heard from Christine Blasey Ford publicly since the allegations arose.
After addresses by the leading Republican and Democrat senators, she delivered her statement, at times close to tears.
“I am here today not because I want to be,” she said.
“I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”
Christine Blasey Ford alleged Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge had locked her in a bedroom during a small gathering at a house in a Washington DC suburb in the summer of 1982, when she was 15 and Brett Kavanaugh was 17.
She said Brett Kavanaugh had tried to remove her clothing, pinned her to a bed and groped her. Both men were “drunkenly laughing”, she said.
Prof. Ford added: “Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details.”
Under questioning by a Democratic senator, Christine Blasey Ford said her most vivid memory was “the laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense… They were laughing with each other – two friends having a really good time with one another”.
In an answer to a question from another Democrat about claims of mistaken identity, she said she was “100%” certain that Brett Kavanaugh had assaulted her.
Many of the 10 Democrats in the 21-person committee praised her for coming forward – and supported her call for an FBI investigation into her allegations.
The 11 Republicans, all men, deferred most of their questions to a lawyer, Phoenix prosecutor Rachel Mitchell.
Brett Kavanaugh responded by taking a combative approach but occasionally became emotional.
“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace,” the 53-year-old federal judge told the committee.
“The constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.
“Since my nomination in July there has been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation.”
Brett Kavanaugh insisted he would not be “intimidated” into withdrawing from the process.
He said: “You may defeat me in the final vote but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.”
Brett Kavanaugh said he did not doubt that Christine Blasey Ford had been assaulted, but insisted: “I’ve never s**ually assaulted Dr Ford – or anyone.”
He admitted he had drunk beer while at high school and under-age, but said he had never got so drunk as to forget events.
The federal judge added that his calendars for 1982 – which he had kept – showed he had not attended a party at the location Christine Blasey Ford had described.
His friend, Mark Judge, has sent two letters to the committee saying he has no recollection of the events described by Christine Blasey Ford and adding that he had never seen Brett Kavanaugh behave in the way alleged.
The Democratic senators on the committee have called on President Trump to “immediately withdraw” Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Moments after the hearing ended, however, President Trump stood by his nominee and said he found Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony “powerful, honest and riveting”.
President Trump has repeatedly defended the judge’s character, saying he is “one of the highest quality people” he has ever met.
Thousands of protesters against the nomination took to the streets on September 27 and 59 people were arrested near the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.