WASHINGTON D.C. - It's Justice Gorsuch now.
Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as the 113th justice in the history of the Supreme Court on Monday — but more importantly, as the ninth justice who will bring the court back to full strength after 14 months in the wilderness.
Chief Justice John Roberts did the first set of honors in a private ceremony in the justices' conference room, where Gorsuch took his judicial oath, his hand on a family Bible held by his wife, Louise. All the current justices were in attendance, along with most of their spouses. Also present were Gorsuch's two daughters, as well as the widow and a son of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose seat Gorsuch will take.
Two hours later at the White House, Gorsuch took his constitutional oath as a federal employee from Justice Anthony Kennedy, the longest-serving current justice, who employed Gorsuch as a law clerk nearly a quarter-century ago. President Trump, who nominated Gorsuch on Jan. 31, introduced Gorsuch to a supportive crowd in the Rose Garden.
Then the newest, youngest (at 49) member of the court can get to work, and he faces a heavy workload. There are cases to be heard in the next two weeks, including an important one on the separation of church and state. There are petitions to consider, which could lead to new cases next term on guns, voting rights and same-sex marriage. And there are cases already heard that might be deadlocked at 4-4 in which Gorsuch could be asked to cast the deciding vote after a rehearing.
Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate, 54-45, on Friday after a contentious few days, during which Democrats blocked consideration of his nomination by using the minority party's power to filibuster. Republicans got around the roadblock by changing the Senate's rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold needed to bring high court nominations to the floor.
The Senate action followed four days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, during which Gorsuch frustrated Democrats by avoiding direct answers to questions about past, present and future cases. The committee voted 11-9 along party lines to advance his nomination.
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