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Monday, April 10, 2017

Gorsuch Takes Supreme Court Seat in Victory for Conservatives

Senate Heads for Supreme Court Showdown

WASHINGTON (AP) -- With a divisive confirmation process behind him, Judge Neil Gorsuch is about to take his place as the newest Supreme Court justice.

The 49-year-old appeals court judge from Colorado is to be sworn in Monday after a bruising fight that saw Republicans change the rules for approving Supreme Court picks -- over the partisan objection of Democrats.

First up is a private ceremony in the high court’s Justices’ Conference Room, with Chief Justice John Roberts administering the oath prescribed by the Constitution. That will be followed by a public ceremony at the White House, where Justice Anthony Kennedy is to administer the oath.

Gorsuch, who once clerked for Kennedy, will be the first member of the court to serve alongside his former boss.

He replaces the late Justice Antonin Scalia, part of the court’s conservative wing for nearly three decades before he died unexpectedly in February 2016. In nominating Gorsuch, President Donald Trump said he fulfilled a campaign pledge to pick someone in the mold of Scalia.

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. Like Scalia, he is a gifted writer with a flair for turning legal jargon into plain language people can understand.

Gorsuch will be seated just in time to hear one of the biggest cases of the term: a religious rights dispute over a Missouri law that bars churches from receiving public funds for general aid programs.

His 66-day confirmation process was swift, but divisive. It saw Senate Republicans trigger the “nuclear option” to eliminate the 60-vote filibuster threshold for all future high court nominees. The change allowed the Senate to hold a final vote with a simple majority.

Some interesting facts about Gorsuch and the court:

--He is the youngest nominee since Clarence Thomas, who was 43 when confirmed in 1991.

--The Colorado native went to high school in Washington while his mother served as EPA administrator in the Reagan administration.

--He’s the sixth member of the court who attended Harvard Law School; the other three got their law degrees from Yale.

--Gorsuch credits a nun with teaching him how to write. He and his family attend an Episcopal church in Boulder, though he was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools as a child. He joins a court that has five Catholics and three Jews.

--As an associate justice, Gorsuch will earn $251,800 a year -- more than 15 percent higher than his $217,600 salary as an appellate judge.

--Gorsuch joins the ranks of justices who are millionaires. He reported financial assets in 2015 worth at least $3.2 million, according to his latest financial disclosure report.


Associated Press writer Mark Sherman contributed to this report.


Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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