Wed, Oct 10, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Kavanaugh to hear first arguments

POTENTIAL TIEBREAKER:The new justice yesterday was to hear a case involving long sentences for repeat offenders, and another today about immigrant detentions

AP, WASHINGTON

A US Supreme Court with a new conservative majority was to the bench yesterday, as Justice Brett Kavanaugh joins his new colleagues to hear his first arguments as a justice.

It was to be a moment that conservatives have dreamed of for decades, with five solidly conservative justices on the bench.

Court watchers were to be looking to see whether the new justice asks questions at arguments and, if so, what he asks, while others were to look for any lingering signs of Kavanaugh’s heated, partisan confirmation fight.

However, the justices, who often highlight their efforts to work together as a collegial body, are likely to focus on the cases before them.

Republicans had hoped to confirm Kavanaugh in time for him to join the court on Monday last week, the start of the new term. Instead, he missed the first week of arguments as the US Senate considered an allegation that he had sexually assaulted a woman in high school.

On Monday evening, Kavanaugh was the guest of honor at a ceremonial swearing-in at the White House.

While Trump apologized on behalf of the nation for “the terrible pain and suffering” Kavanaugh and his family had suffered and declared him “proven innocent,” the new justice assured that he would be fair and was taking the job with “no bitterness.”

Kavanaugh has hired four clerks, all women, the first time that has happened. He has also been preparing for arguments this week.

The court yesterday was scheduled to hear two hours of arguments in cases involving long sentences for repeat offenders. Today — the only other day of arguments this week — the court is to hear another two hours of arguments.

One of the two cases the court is hearing today involves the detention of immigrants, an issue on which Kavanaugh’s vote could be key.

Although he missed the court’s first week, none of the six cases argued dealt with blockbuster issues. They included a case about a potential habitat for an endangered frog and another about an Alabama death row inmate whose lawyers argue he should not be executed because dementia has left him unable to remember his crime.

Kavanaugh will not vote in those cases, but if the court is split 4-4, the court could decide to have those cases reargued so Kavanaugh can break the tie.

As the newest member of the court, Kavanaugh is to take on a few special jobs. He is to take notes for the justices when they meet for private conferences and will also be the one to answer the door at those meetings if someone knocks to deliver something.

He will also sit on the committee that oversees the court’s cafeteria, which is open to the public.

Chief Justice John Roberts has previously said that assignment is a way of bringing a new justice “back down to Earth after the excitement of confirmation and appointment.”

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