WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee today endorsed Anthony M. Kennedy's nomination to the Supreme Court by a unanimous 14-0 vote.
The nomination now goes before the full Senate, where a vote could come as soon as Friday, but more likely will occur early next week.
Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) told reporters there is a "slim chance" that the full Senate will vote on the Kennedy nomination Friday, but said a Monday vote is "more likely."
Byrd, who as a committee member spoke in favor of the nomination, left before the committee chairman, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) called for the vote. Biden cast proxy votes in favor of Kennedy in behalf of Byrd and Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), who is campaigning for his party's presidential nomination.
Told of Byrd's prospective schedule, court spokeswoman Toni House said an investiture ceremony could be held during the court's recess if Kennedy is confirmed.
A spokesman for Kennedy, a federal appeals court judge in California, said he was at work in his office in Sacramento today and would have no comment on the vote.
Confirmation appears assured, a tranquil conclusion to a ferocious political battle that began last summer when Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. retired.
The Senate rejected the President's first choice for the job, Robert H. Bork. A second nominee, Douglas H. Ginsburg, withdrew after admitting that he had smoked marijuana while a law professor.
Kennedy, 51, has been a federal appeals court judge for 12 years, and has authored hundreds of judicial opinions.
Some have portrayed Kennedy as a moderate conservative similar in judicial outlook and temperament to Powell.