Neil Gorsuch, picked by President Donald Trump, was sworn in Monday as the US Supreme Court's ninth justice, retilting the bench to the right as he filled the seat left vacant by last year's death of conservative icon Antonin Scalia.
Confirmed by the Senate on Friday after a bitter months-long fight, Gorsuch, 49, was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court attended by the other justices and Gorsuch's family.
His nomination to a life term marked Trump's first opportunity to shape for a generation a court that is the ultimate arbiter of many of the most contentious issues in the US life.
In Gorsuch, who was sworn in at the Rose Garden ceremony, Trump picked a respected federal appeals court judge who is seen as a fervent disciple of Scalia and a brand of conservative jurisprudence that calls for the strict interpretation of the US Constitution as its writers intended.
The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm him, but only after Republican leader Mitch McConnell swept aside longstanding rules to overcome a Democratic filibuster.
He took second oath later in the day at a public White House ceremony officiated by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
— President Trump (@POTUS) April 10, 2017
"Deep believer in the rule of law"
Democrats angrily fought the nomination to the end because McConnell had blocked former president Barack Obama's nominee for the seat, Merrick Garland, after Scalia's sudden death in February 2016.
Since Scalia's death, the court has been evenly divided between the liberal and conservative wings, though Kennedy, a conservative, is looked to as a sometime swing voter.
Trump called Gorsuch's nomination process "the most transparent and accessible in history."
As a deep believer in the rule of law, Judge Gorsuch will serve the American people with distinction as he continues to faithfully and vigorously defend our Constitution — Donald Trump
Gorsuch was a federal appeals court judge in Colorado when Trump picked him for the top court.
During his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch said his work for the Justice Department should be seen as representing the views of his client — the government — rather than his own.
In his remarks, Gorsuch said he was humbled by his ascendance to the nation's high court and thanked his former law clerks, saying of his former law clerks, "your names are etched in my heart forever."
Gorsuch promised to be a "faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great nation."