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 TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game Schwarzenegger tells Trump to 'listen to the first lady' before attacking McCain The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump steps up attacks on McCain MORE attended a special ceremony for Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGOP eager to exploit Dem court-packing fight Court-packing becomes new litmus test on left Warren, Harris, Gillibrand back efforts to add justices to Supreme Court 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 McConnellConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Overnight Energy: Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal probe | Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change | GM to add 400 workers to build electric cars Trump: Green New Deal 'the most preposterous thing' and 'easy to beat' MORE (R-Ky.) and his wife Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoLion Air voice recorder reveals pilots' frantic struggle to control plane: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Dems put manufacturing sector in 2020 spotlight Trump nominates former Delta executive to lead FAA MORE, former Clinton independent counsel Kenneth Starr and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDem senator: 'Appropriate' for Barr, Mueller to testify publicly about Russia probe Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report Graham expects 'thorough' briefing on Mueller report 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 GarlandGOP eager to exploit Dem court-packing fight GOP lawmaker offers constitutional amendment capping Supreme Court seats at 9 GOP rep to introduce constitutional amendment to limit Supreme Court seats to 9 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 SessionsMueller's investigation ends, but divisive political circus will continue Mueller delivers report to Justice, ending investigation Trump says 'people will not stand' for Mueller report 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 RosensteinShowdown looms over Mueller report If Mueller's report lacks indictments, collusion is a delusion Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report 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.