With Gorsuch Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice, a New Conservative Era Begins

After a bruising Senate confirmation battle, former federal judge Neil Gorsuch was sworn in Monday as the 113th Supreme Court justice, restoring a 5-4 conservative balance to the nation’s high court.

Chief Justice John Roberts administered the constitutional oath at 9:00am in a private ceremony; later Monday, Justice Anthony Kennedy—for whom Gorsuch formerly clerked—will ask his new colleague to take a second oath in a public ceremony at the White House.

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Gorsuch “is widely expected to shift the ideological balance of the court to the right,” wrote Lydia Wheeler for The Hill, “with his views seen as mostly in line with the man he is replacing: the late Justice Antonin Scalia.”

However, she continued, “some court watchers say Gorsuch may be even more conservative than Scalia, his mentor and a fellow adherent to the originalist view of the Constitution.”

His impact could be felt immediately, writes David Savage at the Los Angeles Times, noting that Gorsuch joins the court “just in time to cast potentially significant votes in cases that pit religious liberty against gay rights, test limits on funding for church schools, and challenge California’s restrictions on carrying a concealed gun in public.”

On one “religious freedom” case, which will be heard April 19, NBC News says Gorsuch “may have a decisive role to play.”

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“At stake are laws in well over half the states that prohibit spending tax dollars to support churches,” NBC explains. “The states say the restrictions are necessary to keep the government from meddling in religious affairs. But to the challengers, they’re nothing more than a form of discrimination.”

The outlet continues:

Meanwhile, at Constitution Daily, Lyle Denniston notes that Gorsuch’s “first assignment will be a role as a ‘Circuit Justice’ with the duty to handle emergency matters that come up from a lower court in one of the nation’s 13 federal circuits.”

Denniston reports:

For more on how Gorsuch may rule on upcoming cases, check out Adam Feldman’s analysis at Empirical SCOTUS, for which he examined “how Gorsuch reasoned in similar cases while on the 10th Circuit, and appl[ied] this reasoning to the Supreme Court cases.”

The next round of oral arguments begins April 17.

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