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 TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit Trump to meet with Prince Harry during UK visit The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions MORE attended a special ceremony for Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMurkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Graham urges Trump not to abandon infrastructure talks with Democrats 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests 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 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions What if 2020 election is disputed? Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval MORE (R-Ky.) and his wife Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoTrump administration cancels 9M for high-speed rail in California US halts flights to Venezuela Melania Trump expands mission of 'Be Best' on its one-year anniversary MORE, former Clinton independent counsel Kenneth Starr and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump declassification move unnerves Democrats Climate change is a GOP issue, too New Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes 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 Garland2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests Merrick Garland, denied Supreme Court spot, on court set to consider Trump subpoena appeal  Warren calls for Congress to pass federal laws protecting Roe v. Wade 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 SessionsFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Amash: Some of Trump's actions 'were inherently corrupt' 'Persuadable' voters are key to the 2020 election — and the non-screaming news industry 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 RosensteinJake Tapper fact-checks poster Trump admin created describing Mueller investigation Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller 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.