A new Supreme Court Justice was sworn in to office on April 10. Neil Gorsuch joined the ranks of the highest court in the land, returning the number of Supreme Court Justices to nine. The court has had eight justices for over a year following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.
The nomination of a new Supreme Court Justice became a political battleground. When then President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland last year, the senate refused to hold a hearing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decreed that the court pick should wait until after the presidential election.
When President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch, angry Democrats pledged to block the nomination to retaliate against what they saw as a hijacking of the top court pick. To overcome the filibuster, Republicans changed the rules of the Senate—nominees now need a simple majority vote for approval instead of the previous 60 of 100 yes votes. After the rule change on April 6, the Senate confirmed Gorsuch as the 113th Supreme Court Justice on April 7 by a vote of 54–45.
Gorsuch, 49, was born in Colorado, but he is no stranger to Washington, D.C. His mother headed up the Environmental Protection Agency, and Gorsuch went to school and has worked in the D.C. area.
At Columbia University he co-founded The Federalist Paper. He was a clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy and retired Justice Byron White. Gorsuch worked at a D.C. law firm and for the U.S. Department of Justice before being appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver in 2006.
He is married and has two daughters.
Gorsuch has been compared to the man he is replacing, Scalia, in that both are conservative judges and originalists, meaning they are strict interpreters of the Constitution.
At his swearing in ceremony, Gorsuch thanked friends, family and colleagues, and promised to “do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great nation.”