Justice Brett Kavanaugh receives formal investiture at Supreme Court ceremony

November 8, 2018 GMT

Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh formally took his seat Thursday as the nation’s 114th justice in an investiture ceremony at the high court, with President Trump and other dignitaries in attendance.

Justice Kavanaugh entered the high court’s chamber smiling in his black robe and sat on a mahogany bench used by legendary Chief Justice John Marshall from 1819 until 1835.

Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker, appointed to his post by Mr. Trump a day earlier upon the forced resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, moved for the justice’s commission to be read aloud by the court clerk. The commission included a mention of Mr. Sessions.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. then administered the judicial oath, which Justice Kavanaugh repeated, as the other justices stood. With a quick “congratulations” from Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Kavanaugh then took his seat as the nation’s 102nd associate justice.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, was not in attendance, having been hospitalized earlier in the day for treatment of broken ribs suffered in a fall.

Among those attending the ceremony were first lady Melania Trump; retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whom Justice Kavanaugh replaced; and former White House counsel Don McGahn, who was instrumental in vetting and guiding Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination.

The high court said that because of security concerns, Justice Kavanaugh would not make the traditional walk down the building’s long outside staircase with the chief justice.

The investiture is purely ceremonial; Justice Kavanaugh was sworn in immediately after his Senate confirmation on Oct. 6 and has been hearing arguments on the bench and voting on cases since Oct. 9.

The Senate confirmed him by a 50-to-48 vote, the closest vote for a Supreme Court nominee since the 1800s, after a stormy and partisan confirmation hearing that included accusations of sexual misconduct decades ago while he was in high school. He fiercely denied the allegations.

The ceremony was begun in 1970 under Chief Justice Warren Burger, with the first one being held for Justice Harry Blackmun.