Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh will take his seat on the nation’s highest court Tuesday and hear cases involving firearms and immigration.
The 53-year-old judge missed the first week of oral arguments at the high court as the FBI conducted an additional background check on him after Christine Blasey Ford alleged that he sexual assaulted her at a house party in 1982.
He denied the accusation. The Senate confirmed him to the court Saturday.
President Trump will hold a ceremonial swearing-in for Kavanaugh at the White House Monday evening, although he was officially sworn in Saturday as an associate justice by Chief Justice John Roberts.
He will face a variety of cases on the Supreme Court docket this week.
One involves a federal law that imposes lengthy prison sentences on firearms offenders who have three prior violent felony convictions.
Another asks the court to consider which illegal immigrants can be detained during deportation hearings.
And a third involves Navy sailors seeking damages for asbestos exposure.
But for Kavanaugh, the toughest decisions may be on the horizon.
With Kavanaugh taking the place of the more moderate Anthony Kennedy, conservatives should have a majority of five justices to restrict abortion rights, limit the use of race in college admissions and rein in federal regulators.
The newly constituted court also might broaden gun rights, further relax campaign-finance laws and halt the expansion of the rights of LGBT people.
And should special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election reach the court, Kavanaugh could be the deciding vote on whether Trump could be indicted or forced to testify.
Kavanaugh, who worked with independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s probe into President Bill Clinton, has questioned whether presidents should be burdened by subpoenas.
But he has also lauded a 1974 Supreme Court case that required President Richard Nixon to turn over tapes in the Watergate investigation.
He wouldn’t answer direct questions before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the issue, saying they were purely hypothetical.
On the bench, he will certainly be scrutinized for his impartiality and temperament.
Democrats point to his fiery Senate testimony in which he denied sexual-misconduct claims and called the hearing a “political hit” fueled by “anger about President Trump and the 2016 election” and “revenge on “behalf of the Clintons.”
“What goes around comes around,” he had told the panel, a remark many saw as a threat to rule against liberal causes.
But in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Kavanaugh vowed to “keep an open mind in every case.”
With Associated Press
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