Supreme Court

Justice Kavanaugh Hits The Ground Running

Justice Brett Kavanaugh was seated for his first day on the job Tuesday and heard two cases argued right off the bat.

Justice Kavanaugh Hits The Ground Running
Megan Smith

Justice Brett Kavanaugh took his seat on the bench of the nation’s highest court for the first time Tuesday. Inside, you wouldn't know a contentious confirmation battle had just taken place. The justices cracked jokes and rocked in their chairs throughout arguments. The scene seemed far removed from what took place outside the court just days earlier.

Kavanaugh took his seat in the far right chair, next to Justice Elena Kagan. The justices sit on alternate sides in order of seniority. Kavanaugh's entire family and his predecessor, Justice Anthony Kennedy, were there to see him welcomed to the job by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Arguments quickly got underway in two criminal justice cases, both dealing with violent felonies. The first case deals with robbery and whether it can only be categorized as a violent felony if there was victim resistance. The second case revolved around sentencing for burglary.

Kavanaugh waited well into the first argument before asking his very first question. He did not engage in a back-and-forth debate with the lawyers at first, a common occurrence with nearly every justice. 

But it was abundantly clear Kavanaugh was much more confident in the second case. He withheld questions for the Department of Justice but grilled the lawyers representing two convicted felons, interjecting and engaging in at least three back-and-forth debates with lawyers. 

Justices have their own styles when it comes to questioning. Many grill both sides; others question the side they'll support to bolster their argument. Some justices try to poke holes in one side. Justice Clarence Thomas stands on his own: He rarely asks questions at all. 

This time, Justice Kavanaugh only got two full days of prep. There are eight more cases left this month alone, and as he gets more comfortable we can expect Justice Kavanaugh will be an even more vocal member of the court.