Judge Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as the 113th Supreme Court Justice on Monday, filling a seat that has been vacant since the passing of the late Justice Antonin Scalia in February of 2016.
“I am humbled by the trust placed in me today,” Gorsuch, 49, said at a swearing in ceremony at the White House Rose Garden. “I will never forget that to whom much is given, much will be expected. And I promise you that I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great nation.”
“Justice Gorsuch, you are now entrusted with the sacred duty of defending our Constitution,” said President Donald Trump. “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.”
Gorsuch, a member of an Episcopal church, will be the only Protestant Supreme Court Justice, as five are Catholic and three are Jewish. He is also known to be a conservative judge who has ruled in favor of religious freedom during his career on the Federal Court of Appeals in Denver.
His confirmation was a conclusion to a long process marked by political battle. Democrats had attempted a filibuster against his confirmation by ensuring he receives less than the formerly required 60 votes to be confirmed. However, Republicans blocked the move by using the “nuclear option” to change the rules in Senate and allow a simple majority of the votes to receive the confirmation.
Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate with a 54 to 45 vote on Friday.
“As a deep believer in the rule of law, Judge Gorsuch will serve the American people with distinction as he continues to faithfully and vigorously defend our Constitution,” Trump said on the day Gorsuch was confirmed.
Among the cases that Gorsuch will hear during his first week on the bench will be one involving a Lutheran church in Missouri that operates a preschool and day care. The church applied to participate in a state program which provides resources to help schools reuse tires to resurface playgrounds and make them safer. However, the church was denied the program saying that a state law prohibits the state from funding churches.