Neil Gorsuch to be sworn in as Supreme Court justice

10 Apr

Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick to the fill the Supreme Court slot left open after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, is set to be sworn in this morning, becoming the 113th person to serve on the Supreme Court.

He will be sworn in at two separate ceremonies. First, he takes the constitutional oath privately at the Supreme Court. Then Justice Anthony Kennedy administers the judicial oath to his former law clerk in a public ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.

It has taken more than a year of bitter partisan fighting to get to this day. President Obama quickly nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland March 16, 2016, to fill the vacancy. But Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., refused to consider Garland in the Senate, arguing that the next president should choose the nominee.

But many Democrats argued that Gorsuch’s record was too conservative and that he failed to answer key questions about his judicial record during his Senate hearing last month and were still upset over Republicans’ refusal to bring Garland’s nomination up for a vote.

Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate after a bruising fight when McConnell invoked the so-called nuclear option, which allowed Republicans to end debate with a simple majority and subsequently push through the nomination.

He now fills the seat left vacant by the death of conservative Scalia, and the court is back to its previous balance: four conservative, four liberals and Kennedy as the swing vote.

Gorsuch’s first day hearing arguments will be next Monday when he’ll hear his first big case later next week when the Supreme Court takes up a case about government funding and religious organizations.

Another thing to watch? Those challenges to Trump’s travel ban, which could very well end up at the Supreme Court.

Gorsuch, 49, is a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. He was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2006 and confirmed by the Senate in a voice vote. He clerked for Judge David B. Sentelle on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. He attended Harvard Law and has a Ph.D. from Oxford, where he was a Marshall scholar.