Trump’s controversial nominee Kavanaugh sworn in as SC Judge amid protests
By: Lalit K Jha
Washington: Donald Trump’s controversial nominee Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a judge of the US Supreme Court, in a major victory for the US President ahead of key mid-term elections in November amid crackling tension, angry protests and high drama on Capitol Hill.
Kavanaugh was officially sworn in Saturday evening as the 114th Justice of the Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts who administered the Constitutional Oath in the Justices’ Conference Room, hours after the 53-year-old judge was confirmed by a bitterly divided Senate by 50-48 votes — the closest nomination vote since 1881.
Retired Associate Justice Anthony M Kennedy administered the judicial oath. Wife Ashley Kavanaugh held the family Bible. Justice Kavanaugh’s two daughters, Liza and Margaret, and his parents attended the ceremony.
His appointment is for life and he will strengthen conservative control of the nine-judge court, which has the final say on US law.
President Trump, who was on a November 6 mid-term election campaign trail in Kansas, called Kavanaugh to congratulate him on his confirmation and swearing in.
“I just congratulated him,” he said.
“I said congratulations. It was well fought. I mean, who would have thought a thing like that could have happened, what he’s been through? Everything was uncorroborated,” he told reporters in Topeka, Kansas.
Kavanaugh, whose nomination was hit by multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against him from his past, replaces Kennedy who had announced his resignation early this year.
He has vehemently denied all allegations of sexual misconduct against him when he was in high school and college.
The swearing in of Kavanaugh as the Supreme Court judge comes after weeks of bitterly fought battle between the ruling Republican and the opposition Democratic parties.
Republicans had accused Democrats of seeking to delay the confirmation of Kavanaugh in the hope that they will make gains in the mid-term elections in November and stop his appointment altogether.
Things took an ugly turn in the last few weeks, when three women came forward with allegations that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted them.
Millions of people inside US and abroad watched live on their television sets the open hearing of Kavanaugh and his first accuser Christine Ford, a professor in California.
Under tremendous political pressure, Trump ordered a last-minute FBI supplemental inquiry.
The FBI submitted the confidential report to the Senate committee Thursday and soon Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the new FBI investigation into Kavanaugh found nothing to corroborate sexual assault allegations against him.
“This investigation found no hint of misconduct,” Senator Grassley said in a statement. “There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know.”
President Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to say the FBI report vindicated his nominee and expressed optimism about Republican chances in the November midterm elections, where control of the House of Representatives and Senate could be at stake.
On Saturday, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Kavanaugh by 50-48 votes, which was mostly on party lines.
Kavanaugh is the second Supreme Court nominee of President Trump to be confirmed by the Senate.
Describing Kavanaugh as an outstanding person, Trump said that in recent weeks he and his family suffered a lot because of the opposition Democratic lawmakers who according to him supported an uncorroborated allegation of sexual assault against him.
“We’re very honoured that he was able to withstand this horrible, horrible attack by the Democrats. It’s a horrible attack that nobody should have to go through,” he said.
“But the beautiful thing is, he is now in. He’s going to be there for a long time. And he’s just an outstanding intellect, outstanding scholar, a brilliant lawyer — brilliant at everything he’s ever done. So we’re very happy. It was a great vote, a very historic vote,” Trump said.
Even as he was being sworn in inside the Supreme Court, scores of people protested across the street at the Capitol. At one point some protesters ran up the steps and banged on the court’s ornate doors. Other demonstrators climbed on the nearby statue of justice.
“The crowd in front of the US Supreme Court is tiny, looks like about 200 people (& most are onlookers) – that wouldn’t even fill the first couple of rows of our Kansas Rally, or any of our Rallies for that matter! The Fake News Media tries to make it look sooo big, & it’s not!” Trump tweeted.
Of the nine-members on the powerful Supreme Court bench, two of the judges Kavanagh and Neil Gorsuch – have been nominated by Trump. His predecessor Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, both women, on the bench in 2009 and 2010 respectively. (PTI)