Brett Kavanaugh took the bench with his new Supreme Court colleagues for the first time Tuesday in a jovial atmosphere that was strikingly at odds with the tension and rancor surrounding his high-court confirmation.
The new justice dived into his new job, asking a handful of questions in the first arguments of the day following a traditional welcome from Chief Justice John Roberts, who wished Kavanaugh “a long and happy career in our common calling.”
Kavanaugh took his seat at the end of the bench to Roberts’ far left, a visible manifestation of a moment that Republicans have dreamed of for decades, with five solidly conservative justices on the court, and Democrats have dreaded.
In court, Kavanaugh asked questions of both sides in arguments over increased prison sentences for repeat offenders. He jumped in with his first question after most of the other justices had spoken.
Questions from Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s two high-court picks, suggested they could vote against the Trump administration and side with a criminal defendant from Florida who is fighting an increase in his sentence from just over six years to possibly more than 15 years.