Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as the 113th justice of the Supreme Court of the United States just after 11am Monday at the White House’s Rose Garden.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, under whom Gorsuch clerked upon graduating law school more than two decades ago, administered the oath of office to now-Justice Gorsuch, until now a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Gorsuch’s ascendance will give the Supreme Court its full compliment of nine justices for the first time since Justice Antonin Scalia, a pole of the Court’s conservative wing, passed away last February.
In attendance were President Donald Trump, other top administration officials, and all eight sitting justices of the Supreme Court. Monday’s swearing-in comes after a protracted confirmation fight that saw both the first threatened partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee and a resort to the “constitutional option” of changing Senate rules to prohibit such filibusters. The administration’s triumph in that fight came as a major boost to morale, fulfilling a campaign promise to deliver Justice Scalia’s seat to a conservative jurist.
The president addressed the assembled crowd at the Rose Garden before the swearing-in. Alluding to the confirmation fight, he thanked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for their efforts to bring Gorsuch to this day.
The president also referenced Scalia’s legacy, which Gorsuch now is poised to defend, nodding to the late justice’s widow, Maureen, who was also in attendance. “The Ceremony has special meaning as Justice Gorsuch is filling the seat of one of the greatest Supreme Court judges in American history, and that’s Antonin Scalia,” he said.
Justice Gorsuch replied in his own address, assuring the crowd that that legacy was safe. “I won’t ever forget that the seat I inherit today is that of a very, very great man,” he said. Gorsuch also promised to be a “faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great nation.”
Gorsuch will join his fellow justices on the bench for oral arguments when the Supreme Court reconvenes from its recess April 17. His presence on the immensely powerful Court may have an immediate impact on the Trump administration’s agenda. Appeals against lower-court injunctions barring Trump’s travel ban executive orders, for example, are moving through the Fourth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits. It is possible the Supreme Court, now including Justice Gorsuch, will consolidate and hear the administration’s appeals to these injunctions on an expedited basis this spring.