After months of agonizing deliberation and fiery debates on the Senate floor, Neil M. Gorsuch was confirmed as the 113th Justice of the Supreme Court.
Gorsuch, 49, was sworn in by Justice Anthony Kennedy in the White House’s Rose Garden on April 10 with President Trump, along with the nation, looking on.
His confirmation process, though, wasn’t so rosy. Since Trump announced the nomination on Feb. 1, Gorsuch was faced with overwhelming opposition. His confirmation hearings saw heaps of criticism from Democrats, despite overwhelming Republican support, reported The Washington Post.
And such criticism was new. According to CNN, in 2006, when Gorsuch was being confirmed for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, he was confirmed by a unanimous voice vote. His staunchest opponents – Church Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden – were staunch proponents to the Bush-appointed judge’s confirmation.
But such concern over the Gorsuch confirmation is understood. Gorsuch replacement of Antonin Scalia meant replacing one conservative-leaning justice with another. Hence, the previous court structure remains: four conservative, four liberal, and one moderate, according to The Hill.
The New York Times explained that the “placing of a devoted conservative in the seat once occupied by Justice Antonin Scalia and handing President Trump a victory in his push to shape the court for decades to come.”
And throughout the confirmation ceremony, Americans were teased with subtle reminders. Gorsuch was sworn in by Anthony Kennedy, the court’s seemingly-designated moderate justice. Kennedy has been the swing vote in a number of cases, such as Hodges v. Obergefell, the monumental 2015 decision which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. The two justices also have a previous professional relationship.
“Justice Kennedy’s presence was symbolic personally for Justice Gorsuch, who served as a clerk for Justice Kennedy and considers him a mentor. It is the first time in the history of the Supreme Court that a sitting justice will serve with a justice who had been his clerk,” wrote the New York Times.
Thus, a new justice has been confirmed; and Neil Gorsuch has been tasked with one of the most monumental jobs in the nation – defending the constitution.
“Justice Gorsuch, you are now entrusted with the sacred duty of defending our Constitution,” President Trump said to Gorsuch at the confirmation. “Our country is counting on you to be wise, impartial and fair, to serve under our laws not over them, and to safeguard the right of the people to govern their own affairs,” he continued.