Neil Gorsuch is expected to be confirmed by the Senate on Friday to become the 113th justice on the Supreme Court. Here is a look at what happens next:

From Bill Mears, Fox News Producer

With the Senate vote, would Gorsuch now officially become a justice?

No, the final step in the confirmation process involves President Trump issuing a written commission to his nominee, who then must take two oaths of office before assuming his official duties.

What is the wording of the oaths?

The Constitutional Oath is required of all federal employees. That includes members of Congress, and top executive branch and judicial officers. State legislators, governors, and judges take a similar oath to uphold and support the U.S. Constitution. The President has a separately worded oath, specifically written in the Constitution. Here is the oath Gorsuch will take:

"I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

The second, Judicial Oath, is mandated in the Judiciary Act of 1789, which reads, "the justices of the Supreme Court, and the district judges, before they proceed to execute the duties of their respective offices" must take this affirmation. Now, every federal judge takes this oath, including those in appeals, magistrate, and bankruptcy courts. This oath has been revised over the years. The current version passed by Congress in 1990 took out the phrase "according to the best of my abilities and understanding, agreeably to the Constitution," and replaced it with "under the Constitution."

"I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _________ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God."

Who administers the oaths of office?

The Chief Justice of the United States (that's his official title) traditionally administers the oaths, but almost any federal, state, or local officer can perform the duty, including clerks of court. The law makes no special mandate. In 1789, Justice James Wilson was sworn in by the mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the high court first sat. Thurgood Marshall, the nation's first African-American justice, took the Constitutional Oath in 1967 from Associate Justice Hugo Black, an Alabaman. Marshall later took the Judicial Oath in the courtroom, from the clerk of court.

Are there any special traditions surrounding the ceremonies?

Some swear-in ceremonies are private, some public. Some happen inside the court's building on Capitol Hill, some at the White House. We should know shortly the timing and location of Gorsuch's oaths.  Often, a public reception hosted by the President is held days later at the White House, attended by family and friends.

Chief Justice John Roberts is expected to swear in Gorsuch. The current Chief took his oaths at the White House, with Justice John Paul Stevens doing the honors. Current Justices Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were also sworn in with nationally televised White House ceremonies, as was Antonin Scalia, whom Gorsuch will replace on the bench.

Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito took their initial oaths at the court. Justice Stephen Breyer, interestingly, first took his oaths in rural Vermont in early August, where Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who did the honors, had a vacation home. That was so Breyer could begin his judicial duties immediately while the court was still in recess. The oaths were retaken for posterity in a public ceremony at the White House nine days later.

One special tradition involves the historic chair used by Chief Justice John Marshall, who served from 1801 to 1835. Every justice since Lewis Powell and Rehnquist in 1972 has sat in that chair before taking their oaths or at a subsequent investiture ceremony. In a rare twist, both men took office that same day, but by tradition, Powell gained all-important seniority because he was older than then-Associate Justice Rehnquist by 17 years.

Does the president have to attend any of the official or ceremonial swear-ins?

No, but it has become a recent tradition. For the first 150 years, there was almost no presidential involvement. The first swear-in ceremony at the White House was in 1940, when President Franklin Roosevelt invited Justice Frank Murphy. Every president since has attended an oath ceremony for at least one of his appointees. And every current member of the court except Sotomayor has had an oath ceremony at the White House. Several of these were symbolic, since the justices may have already been sworn in officially earlier, so they could begin their work right away.

There sure are a lot of ceremonies surrounding the court. Is that it for Gorsuch?

Not for an institution built on tradition and ceremony. While most new justices will have already begun their judicial duties, a separate investiture is often held, where colleagues formally welcome him to the bench. This is pure ritual, and is not required. The "special sitting" as they call it, is held in the courtroom, often several days or weeks after the official oaths are taken. The new justice sits in the Marshall Chair just off the bench and the chief justice reads a proclamation. Gorsuch would then walk up to the bench, shake his colleagues' hands, and then take his seat on the far right end of the long dais. Presidents Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama have all attended at least one investiture ceremony at the court. President Truman was the first to attend an investiture of his nominee, for Justice Harold Burton in 1945. Gorsuch's  investiture has not yet been scheduled.

One other informal ceremony familiar to many viewers is the traditional walk down the exterior, marble-columned Supreme Court steps by the chief justice and the new justice.  That usually happens after an investiture or court oath ceremony. The newest court member smiles for the cameras, but rarely says anything beyond a simple "hello" or "thank you."

Any other interesting tidbits?

In 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman on the high court. President Reagan, who made the historic appointment, attended the private oath ceremony at the court. It was also the first time such a private ceremony was photographed.

Scalia in 1986 took his two oaths from two different chief justices. At the White House, the retiring Warren Burger first administered the Constitutional Oath to Rehnquist -- his replacement -- then to Scalia. Later that day in a special sitting of the court, Burger delivered the separate Judicial Oath to Rehnquist, who then, in his first act as the new chief justice, did the same to the first Italian-American on the high court.

The soon-to-be justice traditionally places his left hand on a Bible and raises his right hand during the oaths. The spouse of the nominee usually holds the Bible. Bachelor David Souter in 1990 relied on the teenage daughter of his good friend Thomas Rath to handle the job. Sotomayor's mother, Celina, did the same for her in 2009. Using the holy book is not necessary, according the court curator's office. A copy of the Constitution, another religious text, or no document at all can be used.

The first justice to be fully vested as a member of the court was Justice James Wilson in 1789.

It is customary for the justice, judge, or official who administers the oaths to sign the back of the accompanying paper commission, issued by the president and certifying the nominee was duly confirmed by the Senate. The commission in past years was often read out loud at the oath or investiture ceremonies.


Senate Judiciary Committee Considers Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

By Jake Ryan

President Trump’s nominee to the United States Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch appeared in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee today to provide an open testimony on his long road to fill the vacant seat of the late Antonin Scalia.

Judge Neil Gorsuch – who is currently a Judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals – intently listened as all 11 Republicans and nine Democrats of the committee laid out the case for and against him becoming the next SCOTUS Justice.

Democrats claim Neil Gorsuch should never have been brought in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee because former President Obama’s replacement, Chief Justice Merrick Garland of the 13th Circuit, was denied the opportunity for a hearing.

Much of Monday’s opening statements by Democrats referenced the lack of consideration by Senate Republicans for Nominee Merrick Garland.

Gorsuch is set for a long week, Tuesday and Wednesday will be reserved for at least 50 minutes of questioning from Senate Judiciary Committee members and Thursday will conclude with a witness panel speaking for or against Gorsuch.

To be the next Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Neil Gorsuch will need all 52 Republicans and eight Democrats for a total of 60 votes. Although, Senate Republicans can perform the “nuclear option,” which would change Senate rules to confirm a Supreme Court nominee with a simple majority of 51.

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck E. Grassley (R-Iowa), vows to refer Neil Gorsuch to the full Senate by April 3.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says the Senate will “confirm him before the April recess.”

Judge Neil Gorsuch attended Columbia University, Harvard Law School, and obtained his Ph.D. in Law from University College, Oxford, and received the highest rating of “well-qualified” by the American Bar Association. 

Supreme Court Nominee Gorsuch Ready for His Confirmation Hearings

By Bill Mears

In an isolated area of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, Judge Neil Gorsuch has spent the past few days being put through the rhetorical ringer. For hours on end, he sits alone at a table, peppered with questions about his personal and professional record, all in an effort to see if he will crack under the pressure.

The informal, but intrusive prep sessions are known as "murder boards"  for their intensity, designed to simulate what the 49-year-old nominee to the Supreme Court might face next week in his Senate confirmation hearings.

"He's a home run, he's smooth, he's going to go through great," said Thomas Dupree, a former Bush Deputy Assistant Attorney General, "The [opposing] senators will take their shots, "but I think he's close to a lock."

The stakes are enormous, not only for the nominee but also for the man who selected him from a list of 21 possibles announced during the presidential campaign. Aides say President Trump hopes a successful confirmation will build momentum for his separate political agenda.

 In the broader realm, filling the seat left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia will ensure the high court remains a shaky right-leaning majority. And having that fifth conservative vote will help guide the administration as it makes strategic decisions about which high-profile issues to pursue in court-- like immigration, the environment, transgender rights, and expanded executive authority.

"It's important Democrats and Republicans not roll over on this pick," said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the left-leaning Constitutional Accountability Center.  "The American people want their justices to be an independent check even to the President nominating you, to follow the Constitution, not their own political values."

But liberal advocacy groups have all but abandoned efforts to defeat Gorsuch through public opinion, with scant paid issue advertising. Many progressives lament Democratic senators have been distracted by other ideological fights.

The justices themselves hope the arrival of Gorsuch will end what court sources say has been a tense 13-month period since Scalia's sudden passing. The current 4-4 ideological divide has kept the court off its internal workplace rhythms-- operating in something of  a judicial vacuum, reluctant to tackle those hot-button issues that would lead to precedent-setting impact.

A Record to Match      

A Fox News analysis of Gorsuch's record on and off the bench-- including some 3,000 rulings he has been involved with-- reveals a solid, predictable conservative record, in many ways mirroring Scalia's approach to constitutional and statutory interpretation. And the Colorado native's flair for colorful opinion writing is much in the mold of Scalia, whose sharp pen and wicked wit delighted conservatives

The issues he has confronted vary widely-- from libel, capital punishment, regulatory enforcement, and tax subsidies. But the overall articulate message remains consistent:  less is more when it comes to interpreting the rule of law.

--"Ours is not supposed to be the government of the 'Hunger Games' with power centralized in one district," he wrote in 2015, with an oft-used reference to pop culture, "but a government of diffused and divided power, the better to prevent its abuse."

--Federal worker protections strive "to prevent employers from callously denying reasonable accommodations that permit otherwise qualified disabled persons to work, not to turn employers into safety net providers for those who cannot work," he wrote in a 2014 opinion, displaying sympathy for a Kansas woman undergoing cancer treatment, but nevertheless denying her discrimination claim.

Perhaps his highest profile case was the 2013 concurrence supporting the right of for-profit, secular institutions (and individuals too, he argued) to oppose the Obama's administration mandate to provide contraceptives to their workers. Gorsuch affirmed his past ardent commitment to religious freedom against claims of government "intrusion."

In the so-called "Hobby Lobby" case, the judge concluded, "For some, religion provides an essential source of guidance both about what constitutes wrongful conduct and the degree to which those who assist others in committing wrongful conduct themselves bear moral culpability."

Gorsuch later supported the right of religious non-profits, like Catholic charities, to also challenge the contraceptive coverage mandate. The Supreme Court later partially vindicated Gorsuch's views on both cases.

Sometimes, the judge's conservative bona fides collide, as in the case of a notorious Wyoming inmate.  Andrew Yellowbear, a Native American who murdered his daughter, wanted to use an existing sweat lodge in the prison facility as part of his religious tradition.

Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion that under a federal law,  the inmate deserved that right, striking down the state's discretionary correctional policy. It was a setback for law-and-order supporters.

"While those convicted of crime in our society lawfully forfeit a great many civil liberties," he concluded, "Congress has instructed that the sincere exercise of religion should not be among them-- at least in the absence of a compelling reason. In this record we can find no reason like that."

In his questionnaire to lawmakers, the nominee said none of his own written opinions were ever reversed by the Supreme Court.

One of Gorsuch's off-the-bench remarks is generating some concern, a 2005 opinion piece in "National Journal," written shortly before he donned the judicial robes.

"American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom," he wrote, "relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education. This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary."

And Gorsuch's 2006 book "The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia" has both worried and encouraged some fellow conservatives, His conclusion that the doctor-approved procedure was "essentially a right to consensual homicide" might be used by as a red flag by abortion rights activists and death penalty opponents as a parallel argument, even though Gorsuch made clear in the book it should not .           

Zeroing In

Party sources say Democratic senators will focus much of their attention on seeking Gorsuch's views on abortion, since he has not ruled directly on the right to the procedure.

 "I will not support any candidate who intends to turn back the clock on civil rights, including women's reproductive rights and LGBT equality," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who has not said whether she would ultimately vote for  Gorsuch.

Other areas of Democratic interest:

-- Separation of powers, and whether Gorsuch would be an independent voice to strike down excesses in Trump's executive authority, including the president's revised order banning travel for immigrants from certain countries.

-- Voting rights and campaign finance reform, specifically whether the nominee thinks current unlimited corporate donations to PACs are permissible.  

 -- Workers rights, and whether challenges over pay equity, pension benefits, job discrimination claims, and family and medical leave.

 Some progressives have actually urged Democrats not to ask any questions at the hearings, as a dramatic rebuff for Republicans refusing to give President's Obama's high court nominee-- Judge Merrick Garland-- a hearing or vote.

And they demand a filibuster to prevent Gorsuch from ever getting a floor vote.

Bitter feelings linger. "This is a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee," said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), "and I will do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the Court."    

Backdoor Grilling

Along with his courtesy visits to more than 70 members of the Senate who will decide his fate, Gorsuch has prepared for the spotlight by reviewing his own record, and enduring those closely-guarded mock hearings.

The private rehearsals are coordinated by the White House Counsel's Office, and include more than a dozen participants-- government lawyers, conservative academics, and some of his former law clerks. The goal is to anticipate every possible line of questioning and danger zone-- to give measured answers but not reveal too much. 

Sources say Gorsuch has settled in being himself, avoiding unscripted responses that might provide the televised "soundbite" to derail what has so far been a flawless confirmation journey. Administration officials are privately confident he will shine in the hearings.

Republicans point to Gorsuch's unanimous 2006 confirmation to his appeals court seat as a template to blunt any efforts to filibuster this time. Sources expect him to repeat  in the upcoming hearings what he said 11 years ago, about the kind of judge he considered unacceptable: "Someone who is not willing to listen with an open mind to the arguments of counsel, to his colleagues, to precedent."






Coming Up

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres discusses the state of global politics. Plus, the Friday Lightning Round.

Tonight's All-Star Panel

  • Mollie Hemingway @MZHemingway
  • Charles Lane @chucklane1
  • Byron York @ByronYork

Premium Podcasts

Missed the All-Star Panel on Special Report with Bret Baier? You can now get a daily audio podcast of Fox News Channel's Special Report All-Star Panel.

Monthly Subscription
Yearly Subscription