Brett Kavanaugh took the bench with his new Supreme Court colleagues for the first time Tuesday in a jovial atmosphere that was strikingly at odds with the tension and rancor surrounding his high court confirmation, the Associated Press reports.
The new justice dived into his new job, asking a handful of questions in the first arguments of the day following a traditional welcome from Chief Justice John Roberts, who wished Kavanaugh "a long and happy career in our common calling."
In court, Kavanaugh asked questions of both sides in arguments over increased prison sentences for repeat offenders. He jumped in with his first question after most of the other justices had spoken.
Questions from Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch suggested they could vote against the Trump administration and side with a criminal defendant from Florida who is fighting an increase in his sentence from just over six years to possibly more than 15 years.
There were no disruptions in the courtroom and the justices laughed at each other's jokes. Justice Sonia Sotomayor even appeared to playfully pinch Gorsuch's arm as she asked a question about the kind of physical force necessary to have a crime be treated as violent under a federal enhanced sentencing law.
The newest justice's wife and two daughters were in seats reserved for justices' guests, along with retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh replaced Kennedy on the bench.
The 53-year-old Kavanaugh occasionally chatted privately with his seatmate, Justice Elena Kagan. From time to time, he put on reading glasses to refer to papers in front of him.
Who sits where?
In a tweet from AP reporter Mark Sherman, the new seating chart for the Supreme Court justices can be seen. Kavanaugh is positioned in the very last seat toward the right side of the room facing counsel, seated just beside Justice Elena Kagan.
How will Kavanaugh change the court's makeup
CBS News' Chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford reports that it could take a while before there is any true impact of Kavanaugh's presence on the bench. That's largely due in part to the court hearing a majority of non-controversial cases so far. The court may not get any explosive decisions until the very end of their term when most divisive cases are decided.
As for how Kavanaugh's presence could cause a shift to the makeup of the court, Crawford reports that as a new justice comes onto the bench, it doesn't mean everything stays the same.
Ideological alliances may shift but questions also remain as to what role Chief Justice John Roberts will have. Experts are now questioning if Roberts may become a more moderate conservative voice on the court as he casts a swing vote down the road.
Trump says country is "proud" of Kavanaugh
President Trump said Monday's swearing-in ceremony at the White House was a "great evening" in an early morning tweet on Tuesday. While protesters still line the outside of the Supreme Court, Mr. Trump said that the country is "very proud" of Kavanaugh and his family.
His congratulatory tweet followed a barb he thew at protesters he claimed were paid in recent days. "Screamers in Congress, and outside, were far too obvious -- less professional than anticipated by those paying (or not paying) their bills!"
Kavanaugh arrives for work
Shortly before 8:30 a.m., a line of three black SUV's, one driving Kavanaugh to his first day on the job, pulled into the Supreme Court complex as groups of protesters shouted "shame!"
Kavanaugh was met by security at his home in Bethesda, Maryland early Tuesday morning.
Protests expected ahead of Kavanaugh's 1st day
Similar to his official swearing-in ceremony at the Supreme Court on Saturday, protesters are expected to demonstrate outside the court's steps as Kavanaugh enters for his first day on the job.
Kavanaugh on Monday acknlowedged the particularly contentious environment surrounding the confirmation battle, saying that he held "no bitterness" over the brutal Senate confirmation fight.
What case will Kavanaugh hear?
On Tuesday, the court is scheduled to hear two hours of arguments in cases involving long sentences for repeat offenders -- Stokeling v. US; and US v. Simms. The cases center around burglaries and the elements of crime.
On Wednesday, the only other day of arguments this week, the court will hear another two hours of arguments. One of the two cases the court is hearing Wednesday involves the detention of immigrants, an issue on which Kavanaugh's vote could be key.
Kavanaugh hires all-female clerk staff
Kavanaugh on Monday said he was proud his newly hired law clerks are all women, a first for a Supreme Court justice. "I've worked hard throughout my career to promote the advancement of women," he said.
CBS News confirms that the clerks include: Shannon Grammel, Megan Lacy, Sara Nommensen, and Kim Jackson. Jackson also worked for Kavanaugh on the appeals court. Kavanaugh had said during his confirmation hearing in September that he would hire an all female clerk if confirmed.
Kavanaugh met with all four of them on Sunday in his new chambers, which formerly belonged to fellow Justice Alito.
Kavanaugh vows to be impartial
"The Supreme Court is an institution of law. It is not a partisan or political institution. The justices do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle. We do not caucus in separate rooms," Kavanaugh said during Monday evening's swearing-in ceremony at the White House.
He added of his commitment to the bench, "The Supreme Court is a team of nine, and I will always be a team player on the team of nine."