US President Donald Trump's pick for the country's top court has been sworn in. Neil Gorsuch's debut as the ninth Supreme Court justice ends a year-long political battle over the late Antonin Scalia's replacement.
At a ceremony held Monday in the White House Rose Garden, new US Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch was officially sworn into the role.
The 49-year-old conservative from Colorado, the youngest to be appointed to the position in a generation, promised to be "a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great nation."
US President Donald Trump praised Gorsuch, saying the jurist would rule "not on his personal preferences but based on a fair and objective reading of the law."
Political battle to the bench
The vacancy on the court had lingered for almost 14 months, following the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative, in February 2016.
Following Scalia's death, the Republican-dominated Senate refused to consider Democratic then-President Barack Obama's nomination for the position, Merrick Garland, arguing that since it was an election year the new justice should be appointed by the incoming president.
Under Trump, Democrats mounted a so-called filibuster to prevent Gorsuch's nomination from progressing. In response, Senate Republicans resorted to what they called the "nuclear option" to change the chamber's rules so they could confirm Gorsuch's nomination (and that of all future nominees) 54 votes to 45. Traditionally, Supreme Court nominations required 60 votes.
The nine US Supreme Court justices hold their positions for life. With three of them currently aged 78 or older, Trump could be in the position of making further nominations to the bench, which would widely be expected to make it more conservative.
se/kms (Reuters, AP, dpa)