Gorsuch takes Supreme Court seat after divisive confirmation

Shaw: He'll need to be formally sworn in, which involves taking two separate oaths of office - one he'll take at the Supreme Court, and one at the White House.

"I am humbled by the trust placed in me today", Gorsuch said after officially becoming a Supreme Court justice.

At the swearing in ceremony of Neil Gorsuch, President Trump specifically thanked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for all he did to make the "achievement" possible.

"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", he said after his confirmation.

Kennedy, 80, often a swing vote who holds the balance of power on the court, presided, a reminder that Gorsuch's ascendance may not be this president's final chance to influence the direction of the high court.

Gorsuch will become the 101st associate justice in the nation's history and 113th member of the court when also counting the chief justices.

Later, in a public ceremony at the White House, Justice Anthony Kennedy - Gorsuch's former boss - administered the Judicial Oath.

"And I got it done in the first 100 days", he said, to laughter.

Gorsuch will be the first justice to serve alongside a fellow justice - Kennedy - for whom he was a clerk.

Gorsuch will begin work immediately, armed with law clerks who previously worked for him on the 10th Circuit.

His nomination to a life term marked Trump's first opportunity to shape for a generation a court that is the ultimate arbiter of numerous most contentious issues in the USA life.

Literally within hours of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, drew a political line in the dirt: With nearly a year left in the Obama presidency, McConnell said no nominee would be confirmed until the next administration.

Gorsuch was a federal appeals court judge in Colorado when Trump picked him for the top court. Republicans got around the roadblock by changing the Senate's rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold needed to bring high court nominations to the floor. He takes part on Thursday in the justices' private conference to decide which cases to take up. Democrats were furious Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama's nominee to fill the seat left empty by Scalia, was never granted a hearing by Republicans. Once the filibuster ended by a simple majority vote, Baldwin voted against Gorsuch. Instead, the Republican Senate refused to consider Garland, gambling that Republicans would recapture the White House and control the seat. The crowd, which included every sitting Supreme Court justice, applauded politely.

Justice Gorsuch replied in his own address, assuring the crowd that that legacy was safe. He clerked for Judge David B. Sentelle on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

With Mr Gorsuch on the high court Mr Trump has fulfilled a campaign promise that was instrumental to his election last autumn.

Shaw: For over a decade, the Court has been divided between four more conservative justices, four more liberal justices, and Justice Kennedy, the swing vote on almost every issue. He and his family attend an Episcopal church in Boulder, though he was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools as a child.

Neil Gorsuch sworn in as Supreme Court justice
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