Gorsuch takes Supreme Court seat after divisive confirmation

Donald Trump's nominee for Supreme Court Justice has been sworn in despite vehement Democrat opposition, which forced Republicans to use the "nuclear option" and change the rules so his nomination could pass.

On Monday morning, Chief Justice John Roberts administered Mr Gorsuch's first oath, which all federal employees take, at a private ceremony at the Supreme Court.

Gorsuch took his judicial oath in a White House Rose Garden ceremony with Trump watching on, filling a vacancy that lingered for almost 14 months after the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.

Gorsuch will fill the almost 14-month-old vacancy created after the death of Scalia, who anchored the court's conservative wing for almost three decades before he died unexpectedly in February 2016. He blocked a confirmation hearing for Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, preserving the vacancy and giving conservative voters another reason to side with Trump in last year's election.

The president thanked the Senate Majority leader for helping to secure confirmation for the new judge from Colorado.

"He will decide cases not based on his personal preferences but based on a fair and objective reading of the law", Trump said of Gorsuch.

In the Rose Garden ceremony, Trump said Americans would see in Gorsuch "a man who is deeply faithful to the Constitution of the United States" and predicted greatness for the 49-year-old former appeals court judge from Colorado.

As a Justice Department lawyer from 2005-2006, Gorsuch led all government litigation arising from the U.S. war on terror, including its defense of the extraordinary rendition of Khaled el-Masri, a German-Lebanese citizen who was handed over to the Central Intelligence Agency in Macedonia in 2003 and flown to Afghanistan. "That's even nice. You think that's easy?" he boasted to the White House crowd, which included family members, Republican lawmakers and the high court's other justices.

During 11 years on the federal appeals court in Denver, Gorsuch mirrored Scalia's originalist approach to the law, interpreting the Constitution according to the meaning understood by those who drafted it.

During last year's presidential campaign, Trump pledged to pick a justice who would overturn the landmark 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion. McConnell last week led the effort to change long-standing Senate rules in order to end a Democratic blockade of Gorsuch's nomination.

Gorsuch, 49, could serve for decades. His appointment gives the Supreme Court a conservative edge, at least on paper.

Mr Gorsuch could be sworn in as early as Friday so he can begin preparing for the court's next session of oral arguments, starting on April 17. A third concerns whether a Christian bakery owner can object on religious grounds to making a cake for a gay couple.

  • Larry Hoffman