On Monday, April 10, 2017, a new judge was sworn into the highest level of the United States judicial system. After a unique confirmation process, Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as the 113th Supreme Court Justice.
Gorsuch took the judicial oath in the White House Rose Garden in a public ceremony where the other eight justices as well as President Trump were in attendance. Along with this public ceremony Gorsuch was sworn in privately by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., according to the NY Times.
“Justice Gorsuch, you are now entrusted with the sacred duty of defending our Constitution,” Trump said at the Rose Garden ceremony. “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.”
The ceremony was a triumph for Trump, who before the election put heavy emphasis on his pledge to appoint another committed conservative to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia. This process started one year ago when former President Barack Obama made a nomination for a new justice, but the court decided that the nomination decision should be in the hands of the newly-inducted president.
“(Gorsuch) believes that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and that although amendments are crucial to the ever-changing society that we live in, the Constitution, for the most part, should be left untouched,” junior public administration major Luke Helms said. “In my opinion, Neil Gorsuch was a fantastic choice by President Trump.”
The appointment and confirmation of a new justice to the Supreme Court involves steps that originated in the Constitution.
Gorsuch’s confirmation process sparked debate between the two political parties. After Democrats waged a filibuster against him, making it impossible to reach the 60 votes required to advance his nomination to a final vote, Republicans invoked the nuclear option, lowering the firm rules on Supreme Court nominations to a simple majority vote. Senior social work major Sarah Littleton said she disagreed with this decision.
“Gorsuch may be a well-qualified future Supreme Court justice, but I do not believe voting him in was worth the senate going nuclear,” Littleton said. “The voting rules were in place so that our Supreme Court would not become full of partisan judges, remaining an accurate representation of US citizens. With these new rules in place, the makeup of our Supreme Court may never look as neutral.”
A nuclear option is something that is rarely seen within the Supreme Court, as it is a parliamentary procedure that allows the U.S. Senate to override a rule or precedent by a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of by a supermajority of 60 votes.
At 49, Gorsuch has the potential of serving 30 years or more as a justice in the Supreme Court. His conservative views are something that the Republican party was looking for.
Gorsuch served as clerk under Justice Anthony Kennedy prior to becoming a justice. It is the first time in the history of the Supreme Court that a sitting justice will serve alongside a justice who had previously been his clerk.
“His experience clerking for Supreme Court justices and serving as a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeal should leave no doubt that he has an impressive resume that qualifies him for this position,” Helms said. “Gorsuch has spent his career as a Constitutional Originalist. He does not mince words and he sticks to his guns.”