Trump, first lady attend special Supreme Court ceremony for Kavanaugh

Trump, first lady attend special Supreme Court ceremony for Kavanaugh
© Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpCruz in 2016 said 'something fundamentally wrong' with Christians who back Trump: book Designer defends Melania Trump statue: 'People may laugh but the context still resonates' Melania Trump heading to West Virginia to discuss opioid epidemic MORE attended a special ceremony for Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Former Justice John Paul Stevens dies at age 99 Robert De Niro nominated for Emmy for 'SNL' role playing Robert Mueller MORE at the Supreme Court on Thursday.

The off-camera event, known as an investiture, is a welcoming ceremony of sorts for the new justice, who is Trump’s second successful nomination to the high court.

Invited guests included elite and well-known members of Washington’s conservative legal and political circles.

Those in attendance included Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard Leo, former White House Counsel Don McGahn, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment White House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout MORE (R-Ky.) and his wife Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoOcasio-Cortez accuses GOP leader of being 'complicit in advancing racism in America' Reporter presses McConnell on if it's racist to tell his immigrant wife to 'go back to her country' McConnell says Trump is not a racist, but calls for better rhetoric MORE, former Clinton independent counsel Kenneth Starr and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet Why Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Memo: Toxic 2020 is unavoidable conclusion from Trump tweets MORE (R-S.C.).

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Kavanaugh's former colleagues on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, including Chief Judge Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandDem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors John Legend: Republicans play to win, Biden plays to impress the media Biden says he opposes expanding the Supreme Court MORE, also attended the event. Former President Obama nominated Garland to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, but Republicans refused to hold a hearing or vote on his nomination, holding the seat open until after the 2016 presidential election.

Newly appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was also there. In an authoritative tone, he made the formal request for Kavanaugh’s commission to be read and accepted by the court.

The court clerk said the commission was signed by former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump's no racist; he's an equal opportunity offender Press: Acosta, latest to walk the plank The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question MORE, who resigned upon the president request less than 24 hours ago.

Whitaker sat at counsel’s table in the front of the courtroom beside Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinFeds will not charge officer who killed Eric Garner The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question Judiciary issues blitz of subpoenas for Kushner, Sessions, Trump associates MORE and Solicitor General Noel Francisco.

President Trump and the first lady were seated next to retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom Kavanaugh has replaced on the court.

Trump did not display emotion throughout the 20-minute ceremony in the courtroom, where he earned a big win last term. The justices voted to uphold his travel ban on people from five majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States in June.

Trump has now asked the justices to wade into legal fights over his administration’s decision to rescind the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. The program has protected people brought to the country illegally as children from deportation.

Trump was also present for the investiture ceremony of his first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Unlike Gorsuch, however, Kavanaugh did not take the traditional walk down the courthouse steps following the ceremony.

In a statement last week, Supreme Court Public Information Officer Kathy Arberg said there would be no photo opportunity due to security concerns. The walk is usually a chance for the media to get a picture of the new justice and his family.

The court said every justice since Justice John Paul Stevens in 1975 had walked down the steps.

Kavanaugh smiled as he entered the courtroom for Thursday's proceedings with his wife and took his seat in the ceremonial chair used by Chief Justice John Marshall during the early 19th century.

It was one of the few times Kavanaugh is likely to sit in front of the bench rather than behind it.

After the commission was read, Chief Justice John Roberts swore Kavanaugh in for a second time. Roberts administered the Constitutional oath at the courthouse on Oct. 6 after Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate.

Kennedy administered the oath later that same day in a private ceremony in the justice’s conference room and two days later President Trump held a prime-time swearing in event at the White House, which was attended by the Kavanaugh's new colleagues on the court.

On Thursday, Roberts administered the Judicial Oath again. The ceremony marked the fourth time Kavanaugh has been sworn in to his new, lifetime role.

On behalf of the justices, Roberts wished Kavanaugh a "long and happy career in our common calling."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who fractured three ribs in a fall in her office, was absent from Thursday's proceedings.

The Supreme Court's Public Information Office said Ginsburg went home Wednesday night after falling, but called Supreme Court Police to take her to a hospital early Thursday after experiencing discomfort overnight.

Ginsburg is being treated at George Washington University Hospital.

--This report was updated at 11:55 a.m.