With President Donald Trump and a slew of lawyers and judges in attendance at the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh was formally welcomed Thursday to his new position as an associate justice.
Reflecting dramatic events of the last 24 hours, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker made an appearance, while Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not.
Whitaker replaced Jeff Sessions Wednesday after Sessions abruptly resigned at the behest of Trump. As for Ginsburg, she was absent because she broke three ribs on Wednesday and was in the hospital, a surprise happening that dominated the chatter before and after the investiture.
The investiture marked Kavanaugh’s fourth turn at a swearing-in, a formality that was followed by a reception at the court with family, friends and judges invited. Privately, Trump and first lady Melania Trump met with the justices and stood for pictures to be taken.
Most, if not all, of the judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit were on hand, including Chief Judge Merrick Garland, whose chance to become a justice was blocked by Senate Judiciary Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who also was at the event.
Among private practice lawyers who attended were Lisa Blatt of Arnold & Porter, Greg Garre of Latham & Watkins, Miguel Estrada and Mark Perry of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Robert Bennett, of counsel at Schertler & Onorato.
Federalist Society officials Eugene Meyer and Leonard Leo were spotted in the audience, as were three Republican former attorneys general: John Ashcroft, Michael Mukasey, and Alberto Gonzales.
U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco was present, along with a large contingent from the SG’s office. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein came into the court with Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney in Iowa who had been serving as the chief of staff to Sessions before his ouster Wednesday. Whitaker on Thursday presented Kavanaugh’s commission, which had been signed by Trump and Sessions.
Other attendees included: Monsignor Peter Vaghi, a lawyer and the pastor of Little Flower Church in Bethesda, Maryland, where Kavanaugh was an altar boy, also active in the annual Red Mass that justices attend in Washington; Mark Cannon, administrative assistant to Chief Justice Warren Burger; former White House counsel Donald McGahn; and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina.