Mon, Oct 08, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Brett Kavanaugh sworn in amid protester chants

AP, WASHINGTON

Brett Kavanaugh, hand raised, is sworn in as an associate justice of the US Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts, right, on Saturday evening as Kavanaugh’s wife, Ashley, holds the family Bible and their daughters, Liza left, and Margaret, second left, look on at the Supreme Court building in Washington in a handout photograph provided by the Supreme Court.

Photo: Reuters / US Supreme Court

Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as the 114th justice of the US Supreme Court late on Saturday, after a wrenching debate over sexual misconduct and judicial temperament that shattered the Senate, captivated the nation and ushered in an acrimonious new level of polarization — now encroaching on the court that the 53-year-old judge may well swing rightward for decades to come.

Even as Kavanaugh took his oath of office on Saturday evening in a quiet private ceremony, not long after the narrowest Senate confirmation in nearly a century and a half, protesters chanted outside the court building across the street from the Capitol.

The climactic 50-48 roll call capped a fight that seized the national conversation after claims emerged that he had sexually assaulted women three decades ago — allegations he denied.

His confirmation provides a defining accomplishment for US President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, which found a unifying force in the cause of putting a new conservative majority on the court.

Before the sexual accusations grabbed the Senate’s and the nation’s attention, Democrats had argued that Kavanaugh’s rulings and writings as an appeals court judge raised serious concerns about his views on abortion rights and a president’s right to bat away legal probes.

Trump, flying to Kansas for a political rally, flashed a thumbs-up gesture when the tally was announced and praised Kavanaugh for being “able to withstand this horrible, horrible attack by the Democrats.”

He later telephoned his congratulations to the new justice, then at the rally returned to his own attack on the Democrats as “an angry left-wing mob.”

Like Trump, senators at the Capitol predicted voters would react strongly by defeating the other party’s candidates in next month’s congressional elections.

The justices themselves made a quiet show of solidarity. Kavanaugh was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts and the man that he is replacing, retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, as fellow justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan looked on — two conservatives and two liberals.

Still, Kagan noted the night before that Kennedy has been “a person who found the center” and “it’s not so clear we’ll have that” now.

Yet Kavanaugh is joining under a cloud. Accusations from several women remain under scrutiny, and Democrats in the US House of Representatives have pledged further investigation if they win the majority next month.

Outside groups are culling an unusually long paper trail from his previous government and political work, with the National Archives and Records Administration expected to release a cache of millions of documents later this month.

In the end, all but one Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski, lined up behind the judge. She said on the Senate floor late on Friday that Kavanaugh is “a good man,” but his “appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable.”

In a twist, Murkowski voted “present” as a courtesy to Republican Steve Daines, who was to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding in Montana. That that balanced out the absence and gave Kavanaugh the same two-vote margin he would have received had both lawmakers voted.

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