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 TrumpVeterans groups demand end to shutdown: 'Get your act together' Brown launches tour in four early nominating states amid 2020 consideration Pence on border wall: Trump won't be ‘deterred’ by Dem ‘obstruction’ MORE and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpOvernight Defense: Trump says he won't declare emergency 'so fast' | Shutdown on track to become longest ever | Military begins withdrawing equipment from Syria | Bolton taps new deputy Bolton names replacement for deputy who clashed with first lady The Hill's Morning Report — Groundhog Day: Negotiations implode as shutdown reaches 20 days MORE attended a special ceremony for Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael Kavanaugh5 takeaways from Barr’s testimony MSNBC anchor speculates Trump has something 'pretty extreme' on Graham Five things to watch during Barr’s confirmation hearing 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 McConnellOn The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions Mellman: Why does the GOP persist? Leaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight MORE (R-Ky.) and his wife Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoWhite House announces reduced delegation to travel to Davos amid shutdown Hillicon Valley: Dem blasts groups behind Senate campaign disinformation effort | FCC chief declines to give briefing on location-data sales | Ocasio-Cortez tops lawmakers on social media | Trump officials to ease drone rules Trump administration proposes allowing drone flights at night, over populous areas MORE, former Clinton independent counsel Kenneth Starr and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPence on border wall: Trump won't be ‘deterred’ by Dem ‘obstruction’ AG pick Barr emphasizes independence from Trump Leaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight 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 GarlandHirono blasts McConnell’s explanation for blocking funding bills: ‘One of the lamest excuses I’ve heard’ Avenatti: Trump fighting harder for wall than Dems did for Merrick Garland Supreme Court not for life? Beware perils to its independence 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 Sessions5 takeaways from Barr’s testimony AG pick Barr emphasizes independence from Trump Hillicon Valley: Trump AG pick signals new scrutiny on tech giants | Wireless providers in new privacy storm | SEC brings charges in agency hack | Facebook to invest 0M in local news 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 Jay RosensteinLive coverage: Trump AG pick grilled on Mueller probe at confirmation hearing The Hill's Morning Report — No new negotiations as shutdown hits 25 days Democrat previews Mueller questions for Trump’s AG nominee 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.