Supreme Court Nominations

Gorsuch is confirmed; he will be 'jumping on a fast treadmill'

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Judge Neil Gorsuch

Judge Neil Gorsuch. U.S. Capitol photo.

The U.S. Senate has approved Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. He will take the place of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The vote was 54 to 45 in favor of confirmation. A judge on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch received a well-qualified rating from the ABA.

Gorsuch was expected to win confirmation after Senate Republicans on Thursday approved the “nuclear option,” which reduced the number of votes needed to end a filibuster from 60 to a simple majority.

Gorsuch will be sworn in on Monday morning by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in a private ceremony, the Washington Post reports. Gorsuch will be administered the judicial oath in a public ceremony later on Monday by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

During his confirmation hearings, Gorsuch said that judges are not politicians in robes and that his 10th Circuit record supplies proof. Republicans said Gorsuch had simply applied the law to the facts, without regard to his personal views, while Democrats claimed Gorsuch had interpreted the law to favor corporations over workers.

Gorsuch will have to hit the ground running, the National Law Journal (sub. req.) reports. “It’s like jumping on a fast treadmill,” said Benjamin Horwich, who was one of the first clerks for Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. “There’s a certain amount of triage,” Horwich told the National Law Journal.

Alito joined the court in February 2006—during the term, rather than during a summer recess when most new justices are confirmed.

The National Law Journal summarizes the hurdles that Gorsuch will face. Gorsuch will need to hire law clerks; past justices confirmed midterm have hired their own past clerks as well as their predecessor’s clerks. Justices will hold their next conference to consider cert petitions April 13. Usually a “discuss list” of cases justices would like to discuss is prepared days before, and it’s unlikely Gorsuch would be able to contribute to it. The next oral argument cycle begins April 17, and Gorsuch will have to prepare for that.

Finally, it’s likely Gorsuch and the other justices will have to consider some last-ditch appeals seeking delays in eight Arkansas executions set to take place within 11 days.

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