Judge Neil Gorsuch took the first of two oaths to be sworn in as the newest Supreme Court justice Monday, having survived a grueling confirmation process where he faced Democrats still angry over Republicans’ blockade of former President Barack Obama’s nominee last year.
Gorsuch took the Constitutional Oath in a private ceremony, administered by Chief Justice John Roberts in the Supreme Court’s Justice’s Conference Room. He was accompanied by his wife Louise, who held the Bible, and his two daughters. That oath will be followed by a public ceremony at the White House where Justice Anthony Kennedy – Gorsuch’s former boss – will administer the Judicial Oath.
Gorsuch takes the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February last year, and whom Gorsuch has been compared favorably to by conservatives hopeful for another originalist on the court.
Gorsuch is likely to cast a deciding vote in a number of high-profile cases, which in part explains the terse and partisan hearing the 49-year-old faced. The high stakes led Republicans to trigger the “nuclear option” last week to kill the 60-vote filibuster threshold for Supreme Court nominees.
Here’s a preview of what the soon-to be Justice Gorsuch will be looking at:
Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley
Seen as the hot-button case of the Court’s sitting, this case involves a Lutheran preschool in Missouri that was denied state funds to improve a playground due to a law banning prohibiting government aid to schools with religious affiliations. Trinity Lutheran and supporters are hoping that, given Gorsuch’s rulings on past church-state issues, he will back them in this one.
Weaver v. Massachusetts and Davila v. Davis
The first case surrounds a 16-year-old who murdered a 15-year-old in 2003, and his lawyers claim his Sixth Amendment rights were violated and he was given inadequate representation after a court kept his family locked out while a jury was selected and his lawyers did not object.
The Davila case involves a Texas gang member convicted of killing a 5-year-old and her grandmother in a shooting. But lawyers claim he was given ineffective counsel, and specifically they question the legal remedies given to capital defendants.
Maslenjak v. U.S.
Justices will hear the case of an ethnic Serb from Bosnia, who was stripped of U.S. citizenship for lying about how she came to the country. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that a naturalized citizen can be stripped of citizenship in a criminal proceeding based on immaterial false statements. Gorsuch’s record is unclear on immigration issues, and he only ruled on a few in his time on the 10th Circuit.
California Public Employees’ Retirement System v. ANZ Securities, Inc.
This case involves the question of whether certain class-action securities lawsuits can be barred because they were filed too late.
The retirement fund in California has sued various financial institutions over their alleged role in the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.
How the justices rule in this case is expected to have serious consequences for institutional investors and also will determine whether putative class members must file individual complaints before the three-year period imposed by Section 13 of the Securities Act has run out.
Fox News’ Bill Mears and Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.