This Is Brett Kavanaugh's First Question as a Supreme Court Justice

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A Supreme Court with a new conservative majority takes the bench as Brett Kavanaugh, narrowly confirmed after a bitter Senate battle, joins his new colleagues to hear his first arguments as a justice.

Kavanaugh, a veteran of such proceedings after 12 years on an influential US appeals court, looked at ease as he asked several questions during two hours of lively oral arguments involving a federal sentencing law for repeat offenders.

The emergence of a crowded field in a Senate race two years away, including former President Barack Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice, emphasizes the powerful political moment triggered by the debate over Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is diving into his new job, asking a handful of questions in the first arguments of the day.

"The Supreme Court is an institution of law".

Protesters held signs that said, "We will not forget" and "We do not consent", following the acrimonious fight that culminated in Kavanaugh's 50-48 confirmation by the Senate on Saturday. He's now Justice Kavanaugh, but that doesn't mean the Democrats are done with him. His path to confirmation was met with enormous opposition from Democrats and left-wing groups - which intensified after Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexually assaulting her, allegations Kavanaugh denied and which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found to be uncorroborated.

The cases, involving a Florida robbery and burglaries in Tennessee and Arkansas, challenged the types of crimes that qualify as violent felonies under that law and can lead to 15-year mandatory minimum sentences. "A brilliant jurist, a man that did nothing wrong, a man that was caught up in a hoax that was set up by the Democrats using the Democrats' lawyers, and now they want to impeach him".

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The same question faces the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct after the White House successfully argued that the Kavanaugh allegations should not be conflated with the rest of the movement.

Trump has now put his stamp on the court with his second justice in as many years. Kavanaugh, however, claimed all the allegations to be false.

But Trump, who last week publicly mocked Ford, continued to stoke political divisions at Monday's ceremony, saying Kavanaugh had been the victim of "a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception". That evening, he took his oaths of office in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court while protesters chanted outside the court building.

Since justices serve lifetime appointments, the political consequences are likely to last long beyond Trump's administration.

"I think a lot of Democrats are going to vote Republican", Trump added.

Kavanaugh is expected to push the court further to the right as he is replacing Kennedy, a conservative who sometimes voted with the liberal justices on key social issues such as abortion and gay rights.

The groups - Be A Hero Team, Maine People's Alliance and Mainers for Accountable Leadership - said Collins' re-election campaign would have received the money if she'd voted against Kavanaugh's confirmation.

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