Gorsuch Rounds Out Supreme Court Membership

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April 9, 2017

The Supreme Court has the full complement of nine Justices again, now that the Senate has confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia.

Gorsuch was not the first nomination of the President after Scalia's death. That nomination, of Merrick Garland, made by then-President Barack Obama, stalled in the Senate when the Republican majority refused to start the confirmation process. President Donald Trump, soon after his inauguration, nominated Gorsuch, and the Senate confirmed Gorsuch to the high court on April 7.

Gorsuch will be officially sworn in on April 10. The next Supreme Court session begins April 17.

During the 11 months that the Supreme Court had a vacancy, the high court refused to take some cases and deadlocked 4-4 on others. If a case before the high court does not have a majority vote, then the decision reverts to that handed down by the appeals court from which the case came; the result is the same if the high court refuses to take a case. The Supreme Court is not required to take any case suggested for elevation from any lower court.

Gorsuch has firsthand knowledge of Supreme Court matters, having been a clerk for former Justice Byron White and current Justice Anthony Kennedy. Gorsuch has served as a member of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006.

Gorsuch was born in Denver and went to school there. He is a fourth-generation Coloradan. His mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, was a lawyer and served as a representative in the Colorado statehouse; she was also the first female administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. His father, David, was also a lawyer.

Neil Gorsuch graduated from a Maryland preparatory school and then received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University. He followed that up by graduating from Harvard Law School (where Obama was one of his classmates) and then University College, Oxford.

Gorsuch received his Juris Doctor from Harvard in 1991 and then was a clerk for David Sentelle, a judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, before clerking for Supreme Court Justices White and Kennedy. Gorsuch then went to work for a D.C. law firm, Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel. Gorsuch worked for that firm until 2005, when he joined the Justice Department as principal deputy to the associate attorney general. A year before, he received his Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford.

Gorsuch was appointed in 2006 to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. It was a sort of homecoming, in that that Court of Appeals has its headquarters in Denver, Gorsuch's hometown.

Gorsuch and his wife, Louise, whom he met in England, live in Boulder, Colo., and have two daughters, Emma and Belinda.

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