The partisan blame that Brett Kavanaugh pinned on Democrats and progressives over the sexual misconduct allegations that roiled his confirmation proceedings won’t just disappear now that he is sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court, Marcia Coyle, chief Washington correspondent at The National Law Journal, said Tuesday on PBS NewsHour.

Coyle, speaking with NewsHour host Judy Woodruff, said Kavanaugh’s attempt to walk back his partisan complaints—writing an op-ed at The Wall Street Journal where he acknowledged saying too much—”could almost be perceived by some people as an effort to lobby for votes for his confirmation.” Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48, the narrowest margin for a Supreme Court justice in modern history.

“So it was, I think, almost incumbent on him after his confirmation, and since he was in the public ceremony last night, to say something to reassure those who did view that op-ed piece as not a genuine expression of regret that he will be a neutral, open-minded justice,” Coyle said.

Kavanaugh took the bench for the first time Tuesday as a justice, and the proceedings there, marked by joviality and business-as-usual questioning—were in stark contrast to the bitter confirmation hearing from just weeks earlier. There was no hint inside the courtroom of any of the controversy Kavanaugh confronted. A day earlier, Kavanaugh, appearing at the White House to take a ceremonial oath, vowed to be an “independent and impartial justice,” devoted not to any one party or interest but “equal justice under law.”

“The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional. That process is over,” Kavanaugh said. “My focus now is to be the best justice I can be. I take this office with gratitude and no bitterness.”

Read the full PBS NewsHour transcript here.


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