Gorsuch sworn in as Supreme Court justice News
Gorsuch sworn in as Supreme Court justice

[JURIST] Judge Neil Gorsuch [SCOTUSblog profile] was sworn in [press release] Monday, becoming the 113th person to serve on the US Supreme Court [official website]. Gorsuch’s confirmation will return the court to a balance of four conservatives, four liberals and Justice Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote. In accepting the post, Gorsuch stated [ABC report], “To my new colleagues and the staff of the Supreme Court, thank you for the very warm welcome. I look forward to many happy years together.” Kennedy administered the oath of office to Gorsuch using the family Bible while his wife and two daughters watched. Gorsuch was a judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] in Denver. He graduated from Harvard Law and holds a PhD from Oxford, where he was a Marshall scholar.

Gorsuch’s confirmation ends a contentious battle between Democrats and Republicans over the Supreme Court vacancy. Following Scalia’s death in February 2016, then-President Barack Obama nominated [JURIST report] federal appellate judge Merrick Garland. Senate Republicans refused to consider [JURIST commentary] Garland, insisting that the next president should chose the nominee. Following Trump’s election to the White House and Republican retention of control over the Senate, the nomination of a conservative judge appeared likely. Trump fostered intrigue over his nomination by releasing a list of 21 potential nominees [Politico report] before ultimately selecting Gorsuch. Despite a Republican majority in the Senate, Gorsuch’s confirmation was not unchallenged. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell had to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” [NYT report] to bypass a filibuster by Democrats, which reduced the number of votes needed to invoke cloture from 60 to 50. The move was necessary because the 52 Republican members of the Senate would not have the votes to defeat the filibuster without Democratic support.