New US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh dove into his new job Tuesday, shrugging off the controversy over his nomination and firing off a handful of questions at his first hearing, a case on prison reform.
A handful of protesters rallied outside the court in opposition to the conservative justice, who was confirmed on Saturday by the Senate by a razor-thin margin after weeks of partisan rancor.
“We will not forget!” the group shouted — a reference to the accusations of sexual assault that threatened to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination, allegations that the 53-year-old strongly denied.
The small group quickly broke up. Shortly afterwards, the US high court came to order with the traditional call of “Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye.”
In front of a packed courtroom, Chief Justice John Roberts welcomed the newest judge on the nine-member panel and wished him a “long and happy career.”
The justices then heard arguments in a series of cases about prison terms for repeat offenders and what constitutes a “violent felony” that would open up recidivists to more serious sentences.
Kavanaugh jumped in, asking a series of questions during the proceedings.
His arrival on the court tips the bench decidedly to the right — with five conservative and four liberal justices.
Kavanaugh promised to be a “impartial” judge and a “team player” during his ceremonial swearing-in at the White House late Monday.
“The Supreme Court is an institution of law. It is not a partisan or political institution,” he said.
Kavanaugh’s nomination was thrown into jeopardy when university research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford came forward with accusations that he had sexually assaulted her when they were teens in the Washington area.
Both Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee in an extraordinary day of raw testimony.
Ultimately, Kavanaugh was confirmed by a vote of 50-48.
The two-vote margin of victory in the Senate made it the closest Supreme Court confirmation vote since 1881 — and by far the most contentious since Clarence Thomas in 1991.
Only one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted for Trump’s nominee.
Florida Republican Congressman Ross Spano is under federal criminal investigation: report
On Thursday, the House Ethics Committee announced that Rep. Ross Spano (R-FL) is under criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
The investigation, which was triggered by ethics complaints filed in August, centers on allegations that Spano borrowed $180,000 from two people, Carey Carreno and Karen Hunt, then immediately loaned $167,000 of that to his campaign, falsely reporting it as "personal funds."
Here’s why Trump’s appeal to the Supreme Court to keep his tax returns secret could back him into a corner
On Thursday, President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block New York prosecutors from obtaining his tax returns, with his lawyers arguing the president is immune from all criminal investigation while in office.
But on CNN's "The Situation Room," Washington Post reporter David Swerdlick argued that this line of defense is counterproductive to Trump in the long term.
"I think immunity is actually the weaker argument," said Swerdlick. "I think if I were the president's legal team, I would be making the argument that this is a fishing expedition, that this is politically motivated. Because even if the court says, look, the state of New York can't get it, they still have to address the issue of the House Ways and Means Committee chair asking for the president's tax returns, and there is a federal statute there, 26 U.S.C. § 6103, that says the House Ways and Means chair, the Senate Finance chair can get those."
White House budget official agrees to testify to Congress about his department’s role in Ukraine military aid delay: report
On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that Mark Sandy, a career official at the Office of Management and Budget, will testify to Congress as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's apparent scheme to extort Ukraine with military aid.
This comes after three political appointees at OMB, including acting Director Russel Vought, defied congressional subpoenas to appear, in accordance with the president's directive to refuse to cooperate with the probe.