President Donald Trump paid a brief visit Thursday to the Supreme Court, where he had a front-row seat but no formal role in a courtroom ceremony honoring his high court pick and the newest justice, Neil Gorsuch.
The president and first lady Melania Trump also paid a brief social call on the justices, shaking hands and posing for photos, according to court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg.
But there was apparently no talk of Trump’s travel ban, which his administration is asking the court to immediately reinstate after it was blocked by lower courts.
While the dispute over the travel ban and other controversies have simmered during Trump’s first few months in office, his choice of 49-year-old Gorsuch for the Supreme Court won widespread praise in the legal community as well as unanimous Republican support in the Senate.
Chief Justice John Roberts gave the Trumps “a very warm welcome” at the start of the 10-minute session.
The courtroom was packed with Gorsuch’s friends and family, as well as Trump administration officials, senators, former high-ranking government officials and 97-year-old retired Justice John Paul Stevens.
Before Melania Trump’s appearance, Nancy Reagan was the last first lady to attend what the court calls an investiture ceremony for a new justice, Arberg said. Reagan attended the ceremonial swearing-in for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who in 1981 was the first woman to take her place on the court.
Gorsuch repeated the judicial oath he first took in April, placing great emphasis on its final line, “So help me God.”
He already has issued his first opinion, on Monday.
The investiture ceremony typically takes place before a new justice’s first day on the bench, but Gorsuch was confirmed and sworn in on a tight schedule.
He filled the seat that had been held for nearly 30 years by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016. The high court seat was vacant for nearly 14 months after Senate Republicans refused to take up President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.