Brett Kavanaugh officially replaced retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, the 82-year-old jurist, on the Supreme Court bench Tuesday, hearing his first oral arguments.
Kavanaugh took his seat after arguably the most raucous and bitter confirmation battle in American history. Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate in a Saturday vote and was sworn in ceremonially by President Donald Trump Monday evening that the White House. The president formally apologized to Kavanaugh and his family for the unfounded sexual assault allegations made against him in the final hours of his confirmation. The president also declared Kavanaugh “innocent” of the charges.
In his opening remarks welcoming Kavanaugh to the court, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “We wish you a long and happy career in our common calling.”
Kavanaugh, 53, may serve for decades on the bench, cementing a 5-4 conservative majority.
Kavanaugh is Trump’s second SCOTUS pick; Justice Neil Gorsuch was selected last year.
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Roberts seemed to be in good spirits with his longtime friend on the court. He joked and caused the room to burst into laughter after one funny quip. According to Reuters:
The cases, involving a Florida robbery and burglaries in Tennessee and Arkansas, challenged the types of crimes that qualify as violent felonies under that law and can lead to 15-year mandatory minimum sentences.
Roberts prompted laughter when he described asking his law clerks to try to grab a dollar bill from his hand to determine if that constituted a violent act.
“I’m not saying nobody could do it … but it requires a lot of force, more than you might think,” Roberts said.