It’s official. Neil Gorsuch has been sworn in to the US Supreme Court in two ceremonies, one private and one public.
The new justice was introduced by President Donald Trump at the public ceremony April 10 in the White House Rose Garden. ”I have no doubt that you will go down as one of the truly great justices,” Trump said. He wished “God’s blessing” on Gorsuch and his work.
The new associate justice had already taken the constitutional oath, administered by Chief Justice John Roberts, in a private ceremony early in the morning. The second oath—taken only by judges—was administered by Gorsuch’s former high-court boss, Justice Anthony Kennedy, for whom the younger judge clerked in 1993 and 1994.
Gorsuch attested to the standard pledge upon accepting his appointment (judges have a choice to say ”affirm” rather than “swear”):
I, Neil Gorsuch, do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as justice under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.
Gorsuch then thanked Trump, his family, friends, the White House Counsel’s office, his law clerks, and his team for their support during “months and miles trooping through the Senate.”
He will be taking the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose family attended the public ceremony. Gorsuch addressed Scalia’s wife and children, promising, ”I won’t ever forget that the seat I inherit today is that of a great man.” Indeed, Gorsuch is considered very similar in his judicial philosophy to his conservative predecessor.
Most notably, Gorsuch also promised the American people he will be “a faithful servant” of the Constitution and the laws. He said that he will never forget that much is expected of those to whom much is given, noting that he has been extraordinarily “blessed.”
Sirens wailed in the background, a sign that street life took no break in the US capital, even as the newest justice gave his very brief speech.
He will face his first difficult and controversial case almost immediately. Gorsuch may play an important role in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Missouri Department of Natural Resources, to be heard on April 19. The church sought state funds to repave its playground and was denied, based on the historic separation of church and state.
Gorsuch has shown much sympathy for litigants of faith—to the great dismay of some—so the American people will surely be watching their newest servant closely.