The Supreme Court Gets A New Justice

Following an intense confirmation process, Neil Gorsuch gets sworn-in today as the 113th justice of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court

The 8 other justices of the current Supreme Court are Elana Kagan, Sonya Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy. Gorsuch will be replacing Antonin Scalia, who died last year. Gorsuch is not only filling the vacated seat, but will likely display a conservative ideology that is similar to Scalia’s.

It may seem strange that it took so long to fill Scalia’s seat, but the process of selecting a new justice is grueling and often controversial. Once a person is nominated by the president, they go through the confirmation process. During this process, the senate’s Judiciary Committee holds hearing, where the members of the senate question the nominee. Topics include topical issues like human rights, abortion, immigration, and foreign policy. Then, the senate will vote on whether or nor to confirm the nominee.

Due to political tensions, Gorsuch’s confirmation process got particularly heated. The Democrats in the senate tried to prevent the Gorsuch’s confirmation via filibuster, or delaying the vote. However, the senate Republicans used the so-called “nuclear option,” which allowed them to bypass the Democratic opposition and force the vote.

Quick Facts on Neil Gorsuch

  • He has degrees from Columbia University, Harvard Law School, and the University of Oxford.
  • His past experiences include working as a federal judge under President George W. Bush and working in the Department of Justice.
  • Gorsuch generally displays conservative views. He opposes topics like same-sex marriage and abortion, while supporting gun possession, religious freedom, and limiting the federal government. He is also very passionate in his opposition of assisted suicide, and has written a book on the topic.
  • Like all the other justices, he will serve on the Supreme Court until he retires or dies. Since Gorsuch is only 49, he likely has a long career as a justice awaiting him.

Gorsuch’s Impact on the Supreme Court

As a conservative justice, Gorsuch will likely give the Supreme Court a more conservative tilt. Breyer, Bader Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan are the generally liberal members of the Supreme Court. Alito, Roberts, Thomas, and Kennedy associate with the Republican Party. However, Kennedy is sometimes a swing voter. This means that he often votes with a different side than anticipated.  Still, with the appointment of Gorsuch, the court will likely have a conservative majority on many decisions. Neil Gorsuch will most certainly have an impact on the Supreme Court for decades to come.

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