Promise kept: Gorsuch takes two oaths of office for Supreme Court

Promise kept: Gorsuch takes two oaths of office for Supreme Court

It’s not just Donald Trump’s promise that got redeemed today, but also Mitch McConnell’s. Neil Gorsuch took the oath of office twice this morning, succeeding legendary Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and restoring the previous ideological balance to the court. In the traditional private ceremony, Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the Constitutional Oath:


Judge Neil Gorsuch took the first of two oaths to be sworn in as the newest Supreme Court justice Monday, having survived a grueling confirmation process where he faced Democrats still angry over Republicans’ blockade of former President Barack Obama’s nominee last year.

Gorsuch took the Constitutional Oath in a private ceremony, administered by Chief Justice John Roberts in the Supreme Court’s Justice’s Conference Room. He was accompanied by his wife Louise, who held the Bible, and his two daughters.

ABC got a few photos of the private event:

After those pleasantries, the new Associate Justice took a drive over to the White House for the final ceremony, conducted on “a picture-perfect day,” in the words of the MSNBC narrator:

In the Rose Garden, President Trump called the ceremony “a truly momentous occasion in our democracy,” which is both true and perhaps an overstatement in impact. The US does not often have transitions on the Supreme Court, where justices have lifetime appointments, but this particular installation will produce continuity rather than momentous change. That’s precisely what Trump promised in his presidential campaign for this opening — and he didn’t hesitate to remind the audience of that fact either:


Trump hailed Gorsuch and his ability to rule “based on a fair and objective reading of the law”:

After the preliminaries, Gorsuch took the judicial oath from his former boss and mentor, Anthony Kennedy:

Associate Justice Gorsuch offered his thanks to both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, among others:

CNN offers an amusing look at the life of a Supreme Court rookie, but it’s not without its touching moments. Gorsuch had better brush up on his culinary-management skills, though:

With no time to catch his breath after meeting with more than 80 senators, enduring 20-plus hours of testimony and watching the Senate go nuclear over his nomination, he’ll have to learn quickly. And even though he served as a clerk at the highest court in the early 1990s, he’ll still have to adjust to the peculiar place that is the Supreme Court.

It’s steeped in tradition and seniority weighs heavily.

The junior-most justice starts off at the bottom of the heap, sits on a far wing of the bench and speaks last at conference.
Indeed, the conference — the regular closed-door meeting where the justices discuss cases — has an unusual tradition.

Only justices are allowed to attend. No clerks, no assistants, just the nine.

And the junior-most justice is assigned the task of answering the door. Seriously.


Stephen Breyer had door duty and ran the cafeteria committee for eleven years. Gorsush may not even have to do it for more than a few months, however. Rumors continue to swirl that Anthony Kennedy will retire at the end of the term, which will mean that Gorsuch’s term as the most junior of justices will not last long. In fact, if Donald Trump’s correct about the number of openings that will come up during his term of office, the cafeteria committee will need to get ready for a merry-go-round of leaders.

Trump made good on his promise, but so did McConnell, who often gets criticized by conservatives for his inside-the-Beltway approach to managing the Senate. His critics will find other issues on which to criticize him, fairly and not so much, but they should recall McConnell’s firm stand on blocking the lame-duck attempt to appoint Scalia’s successor and forcing the Democrats to live to their own standards — first with the Biden Rule, and then with the Reid Option. When it mattered most, McConnell came through for conservatives.

Update: CNN has the full ceremony on its YouTube channel:

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