WASHINGTON -- Justice Brett Kavanaugh took his seat on the Supreme Court Tuesday, emerging from red curtains into a marble chamber across the street and a world apart from the Senate buildings where he secured confirmation following a bitter political struggle.
As his family and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom he is replacing, looked on from the visitors’ seats, Justice Kavanaugh assumed the junior justice’s chair at the left end of the bench, studious and serious as Chief Justice John Roberts uttered the conventional words of greeting on behalf of the court.
“Justice Kavanaugh, we wish you a long and happy career in our common calling,” he said. The now nine-member court then got down to business -- addressing a disputed issue in criminal sentencing that, while important for the smooth functioning of the criminal justice system, was the kind of basic business before the court that was all but ignored by the outside world during the raucous battle over seating President Trump’s second nominee.
During a brief interlude while lawyers were admitted to the Supreme Court bar, Justice Kavanaugh chatted and shared occasional laughs with his seatmate, Justice Elena Kagan, a member of the court’s liberal wing whom Justice Kavanaugh cited frequently -- and favorably -- during his confirmation process.
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