The inauguration of Joe Biden

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:42 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021
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12:44 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Here's why some Supreme Court justices were not at the inauguration

From CNN's Ariane de Vogue

Patrick Semansky/Pool/AP
Patrick Semansky/Pool/AP

Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer did not attend today’s inauguration for President Biden because of public health risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the public information officer. 

Justices Alito, Thomas and Breyer are also the oldest members of the court, respectively, at 70, 72 and 82.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor administered the swearing ins of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Sotomayor, who suffers from diabetes, has been extremely careful. When she appeared publicly for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s memorial, she wore a mask and a face shield.

Some of the justices have been working in chambers during the pandemic, although others have been participating from their homes. Justice Breyer, for example, has done some speaking appearances via zoom from his home In Boston. 

At the time of Ginsburg’s memorial and a closed-door welcome for Barrett, the court was extremely strict about masks, according to two sources. This departs from the other branches of government.

The justices have continued to conduct oral arguments and regular conferences by phone. 

12:35 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden's inauguration just ended

The inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris just wrapped up.

Now, there will be an inaugural parade — although it will be largely a virtual one. Biden and Harris will have a presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House including the US Army Band, a Joint Service Honor Guard and the commander in chief's Guard and Fife Drum Corps. The drumlines from the University of Delaware and Howard University will join that event to honor the alma maters of the incoming president and vice president.

The parade will be hosted by "Scandal" actor Tony Goldwyn and will feature comedian Jon Stewart, New Radicals and DJ Cassidy's "Pass the Mic" with performances by Earth Wind & Fire, Nile Rodgers, Kathy Sledge, The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, The Washington Chorus and The Triumph Baptist Church Choir.

1:00 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Nation's first youth poet laureate delivers message of America's resilience and strength

From CNN's Elise Hammond and Veronica Stracqualursi

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Amanda Gorman, the nation's first-ever youth poet laureate, delivered a message of the country's resilience through her poem at President Biden's inauguration ceremony.

"Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It's the past we step into and how we repair it," Gorman said.

"We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will become the future," she continued.

Typically, Gorman, who is 22 years old, said it takes her days to craft a new poem. She finished this one immediately.

"We will rebuild, reconcile and recover," Gorman said in the poem.

Some background: Gorman is no stranger to grand stages. She's recited her poetry at the Library of CongressBoston's Symphony Hall, the Empire State Building's observation deck and all across the country, performing for such luminaries as Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Gorman started writing poems when she was a child, but found it terrifying to perform due to a speech impediment. Biden has struggled with a stutter, Gorman said, and another inauguration poet Maya Angelou – who delivered the poetry reading for Bill Clinton's first inauguration – was mute for several years when she was a child.

12:30 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

White House Twitter accounts have been transitioned to Biden administration 

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

White House Twitter accounts have been transitioned from the Trump administration to the Biden administration, according to Twitter spokesperson Nick Pacilio. 

The Trump administration Twitter accounts are now publicly archived, Pacilio said. Those include @POTUS45, @WhiteHouse45, @VP45, @PressSec45, @FLOTUS45 and @SecondLady45.

1:00 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden vow to Americans: "I will always level with you"

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Joe Biden vowed that as president, he will commit to being transparent to the American people in his closing remarks.

"My fellow Americans, I close today where I began, with the sacred oath before God and all of you, I give you my word. I will always level with you," he said during his inauguration address.

Biden promised to defend America for the "public good."

"I will defend the Constitution. I'll defend our democracy. I'll defend America. And I'll give all, all of you, keep everything I do in your service, thinking not of power, but of possibilities. Not of personal interest, but the public good. And together we shall write an American story of hope, not fear, of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness," he said.

He ended on a message for Americans, saying that they met the moment.

"May this be the story that guides us, the story that inspires and the stories that tell ages yet to come that we answered the call of history. We met the moment, democracy and hope, truth and justice did not die on our watch but thrived, that America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world. That is what we owe our forebearers, one another and generations to follow. With purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time, sustain by faith, driven by conviction and devoted to one another and the country we love with all hearts," Biden said.

12:30 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Meet the nation's first Second Gentleman, Doug Emhoff

From CNN’s Maureen Chowdhury

Kamala Harris has just made history becoming the first first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president in the nation's history. By her side, her husband Doug Emhoff has also made history, becoming America's first second gentleman.

Emoff will use the official @SecondGentleman account starting today. 

Earlier this week, he tweeted about his new role:

"I have a growing sense of responsibility. But I know we wouldn't be here without the support of so many — family, friends, and beyond. Thank you for being in our corner as we take on this next chapter." 

Emhoff, a successful entertainment lawyer, married Harris in 2014 when she was serving as the attorney general of California. Harris is the stepmother to Emhoff’s two adult children, Cole and Ella,  who affectionately call her "Momala."

Emoff’s support of Harris throughout her career has been notable, especially during Harris’ run for president

And while Emoff has stayed out of the spotlight for the most part, he told GQ Magazine this about his new role: "I might be the first Second Gentleman, but I don't want to be the last." 

12:40 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Country music star Garth Brooks performs "Amazing Grace"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Country music star Garth Brooks performed "Amazing Grace" following President Joe Biden's inaugural address.

Brooks called on people in attendance and those watching to sing along with him.

"I'm gonna ask you to sing this last burst with me, the people at home, the people at work, as one united," Brooks said.

1:01 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden pledges to "repair our alliances and engage with the world once again"

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Joe Biden used his inaugural speech to send a message to the rest of the world about the US.

"Here's my message to those beyond our borders. America has been tested, and we've come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again," he said, vowing a change from the isolationist policies of his predecessor.

"We'll lead, not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. We'll be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress and security," he added.

Many European leaders have tweeted their congratulations to the new administration and expressed their optimism at working together.

1:01 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden: We have "much to repair, much to restore, much to heal"

By CNN's Jason Kurtz

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Newly minted President Joe Biden referenced the current plight of America during his inaugural address, noting that the country has "much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain."

As the coronavirus American death toll surpassed 400,000 this week, Biden noted that "few people in our nation's history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we're in now."

Speaking specifically of the Covid-19 pandemic, Biden referenced a "once-in-a-century virus, that silently stalks the country. It's taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II."

But amid tones of pain and strife, as "millions of jobs have been lost," and there exists a "cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making," Biden offered signs of hope.

"To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity."