It’s official: Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s ultra-conservatice nominee to the Supreme Court, is becoming Justice Neil Gorsuch, and the Supreme Court’s right-wing tilt is once more firmly in place.
Gorsuch is getting sworn into his new post twice today. The first ceremony took place in private. Chief Justice John Roberts did the honors, administering the constitutional oath of office. Then the two judges probably swore allegiance to Beelzebub or whatever it is conservatives on the Supreme Court do.
At 11 AM, there will be a public event at the White House, presided over by Justice Anthony Kennedy, and almost certainly featuring a speech by President Trump praising himself for nominating Justice Gorsuch in the first place.
Once the requisite oaths and speeches are taken care of, the Supreme Court will reportedly convene a “special sitting,” where they will welcome Associate Justice Gorsuch to the bench as an official colleague, while Merrick Garland peers in through the window like a Dickensian pauper.
After that? For the foreseeable future, things aren’t looking so great.
With their newly restored 5-4 majority, the conservative justices of the court will take up any number of spicy judicial issues, including a contentious case dealing with state money for religious groups—something well in Gorsuch’s wheelhouse, given his notorious opinion endorsing right-wing craft chain Hobby Lobby’s “free exercise of religion” (by not providing legally mandated contraception for its employees).
From there, Gorsuch will sit on a bitterly divided court likely to preside over questions of LGBTQ equality, abortion access, and voting rights in the coming years—three crucial issues on which his conservative opinion could very well tip the balance toward a more restrictive, less inclusive America for a good long time to come.