Kavanaugh seeks new tone after bitter court confirmation


Newly appointed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh participates in a ceremonial public swearing-in with retired Justice Anthony Kennedy as U.S. President Donald Trump and Kavanaugh’s wife Ashley and daughters Liza and Margaret look on in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Monday.

Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sought to put a bruising confirmation battle behind him on Monday at a White House ceremony in which President Donald Trump declared him innocent of sexual misconduct and apologized for the heated process.

Kavanaugh, whose bid to join the top U.S. court nearly failed after a California professor accused him of assaulting her when they were in high school, said he would enter his new job without bitterness despite a political fight that he told lawmakers had destroyed his family and his name.

“The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional. That process is over. My focus now is to be the best justice I can be,” he said at the White House, with his wife and children standing nearby.

Kavanaugh said he would aim to be a force for stability and unity on the court, whose other eight members all attended the ceremony.

“Although the Senate confirmation process tested me as it has tested others, it did not change me,” he said.

Kavanaugh, who served as part of special counsel Kenneth Starr’s team that investigated Democratic President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and testified that the sexual misconduct accusations were funded by left-wing groups seeking revenge on behalf of the Clintons, said the Supreme Court was not a partisan body.

“The Supreme Court is an institution of law. It is not a partisan or political institution,” he said. “The Supreme Court is a team of nine, and I will always be a team player on the team of nine.”

Kavanaugh’s confirmation proceedings exploded in controversy after Christine Blasey Ford went public with allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982.

Kavanaugh gave a forceful, emotional denial of those allegations during testimony before lawmakers that some Democrats said showed a lack of judicial temperament.

The U.S. Senate voted 50-48 on Saturday to confirm him, with just one Democrat supporting him.

His confirmation to the lifetime job was a victory for Trump and locked in a conservative majority on the court.

“On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure,” Trump said at the start of a ceremonial swearing-in.

“Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception,” he said.Speech

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