Justices offer warm welcome as Kavanaugh joins high court

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A handful of protesters rallied outside the court in opposition to the conservative justice, who was confirmed on Saturday by the Senate by a razor-thin margin after weeks of partisan rancor. Susan Collins, R-Maine, amid a barrage of criticism over her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and a fundraising campaign seeking to oust her in 2020.

Kavanaugh took his seat at the end of bench to Roberts' far left just after 10:00 a.m., a visible manifestation of a moment that Republicans have dreamed of and Democrats have dreaded for decades, with five conservative justices on the court.

U.S. President Donald Trump uses the bitter Senate confirmation battle for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to try to boost Republican voter enthusiasm and prevent a Democratic takeover of Congress in the November 6 elections.

"On the Supreme Court, I will seek to be a force for stability and unity".

The Kavanaugh confirmation has blown open the midterm elections from being a national referendum on Trump's stewardship to a raw emotional discussion over the lack of women in power and how to handle sexual misconduct allegations.

The final vote for Kavanaugh stood at 50-48 which proved to be an advantage for Trump in view of the upcoming mid-term elections which is a month due.

Republicans had hoped to confirm Kavanaugh by October 1, the start of the new term.

Biskupic described the scene as Kavanaugh listened to arguments for the first time and the significance of hearing him addressed by his new title.

Then came bombshell testimony from university research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her at a gathering when they were in school.

The cases challenge the types of crimes that qualify as violent felonies under that law and can lead to 15-year mandatory minimum sentences for a defendant.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the court previous year.

Kavanaugh was sworn in Saturday evening in a private ceremony as protesters chanted outside the court building. Kavanaugh denied the allegations and Republicans pushed his nomination forward arguing no corroborating evidence or witnesses had been produced.

Referring to a 2010 decision known as Curtis Johnson, Kavanaugh asked Justice Department lawyer Frederick Liu what the court should do "if we're trying to follow Curtis Johnson strictly?"

The responses were good news for Democrats: 54 percent they were more likely to vote blue, while 41 percent said they would vote Republican.

Even before the allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced, some Democrats questioned Kavanaugh's truthfulness during his initial Senate confirmation hearing.

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. He once again cast doubt on the women's claims, calling them "lies", following up on assertions he made earlier in the day when he told reporters at the White House that Kavanaugh was "caught up in a hoax that was set up by the Democrats".