WASHINGTON — After a brutal political fight that roiled the nation, Justice Brett Kavanaugh took the judicial oath in the White House Monday promising to "heed the message of Matthew 25."
Assembled before hundreds of friends, family, senators, and administration officials, in a standing-room only ceremony in the East Room Monday, outgoing Justice Kennedy administered the judicial oath to Kavanaugh to become the 114th Supreme Court justice of the United States. Kavanaugh clerked for Kennedy in 1993. His ceremonial swearing-in marked the first time in U.S. history that a retiring Supreme Court justice administered the oath to someone who once worked for him to fill the seat he vacated.
Kavanaugh had already been officially sworn-in at a private ceremony at the Supreme Court hours after his Senate confirmation Saturday.
In a speech following his taking of the oath Monday, the Montgomery County, Maryland native who spent 12 years as a federal judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — considered the second highest court in the nation — thanked those who guided his nomination through the various processes. Appearing to choke up with emotion at times, particularly when he mentioned his family, Kavanaugh noted that the Senate confirmation process was "contentious and emotional."
"That process is over. My focus now is to be the best justice I can be. I take this office with gratitude and no bitterness. On the Supreme Court I will seek to be a force for stability and unity. My goal is to be a great justice for all Americans and for all of America. I will work very hard to achieve that goal," the newest high court justice said.
"Although the Senate confirmation process tested me, as it has tested others, it did not change me. My approach to judging remains the same. A good judge must be an umpire, a neutral and impartial decider who favors no litigant or policy."
He continued that his approach to life also remains the same, noting that he would "heed the message of Matthew 25," the portion on the Gospel where Jesus tells the parable of the ten virgins, the parable of the talents and where he speaks of the final judgement.
"I will continue to volunteer to serve the least fortunate among us. I will continue to coach, teach, and tutor. I will continue to strive to be a good friend, colleague, husband, and dad," Kavanaugh said.
Matthew 25:35 is Jesus speaking: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me."
While the nation is divided, Kavanaugh said that he is nevertheless optimistic about America's future.
"As a justice on the Supreme Court I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States, and the American rule of law," he said.
Evangelical leaders in attendance for the swearing-in ceremony included members of President Trump's evangelical advisory board, such as pastor Paula White, First Baptist of Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress, evangelist Franklin Graham, and Prestonwood Baptist Church Pastor Jack Graham. Dr. James Dobson, founder of "My Family Talk," and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins were also present.
The Monday swearing-in ceremony at the White House came following one of the most bitterly contested, drama-filled political squabbles in recent memory. As Kavanaugh's confirmation looked all but certain to be approved in late September, sexual misconduct allegations emerged from several women who asserted that Kavanaugh had assaulted them when he was in high school and college.
Following an additional Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and a supplemental FBI investigation, a narrow majority of senators concluded that the lack of evidence should not prevent Kavanaugh from serving on the bench.
The final vote tally was 50-48, with all but one Republican voting in his favor. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, was the lone Democrat to vote for his confirmation.