11:04 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Friends and distinguished guests, welcome to the White House. We are gathered here today for a truly momentous occasion in our democracy — the swearing-in of a United States Supreme Court justice.
In particular, I’m greatly honored to welcome to these grounds every sitting justice of the United States Supreme Court. Welcome. (Applause.) Thank you.
Mr. Chief Justice, and fellow justices, it’s a privilege to have you here, to join in this historic moment on this very beautiful spring day in the Rose Garden. Spring is really the perfect backdrop for this joyful gathering of friends, because, together, we are in a process of reviewing and renewing, and also rebuilding, our country. A new optimism is sweeping across our land, and a new faith in America is filling our hearts and lifting our sights.
I’d also like to recognize Senator Cory Gardner, Mike Lee — where’s Mike? He’s around here someplace — thank you. And Mike Crapo. Good. Hi, Mike. Thank you very much, and for all your work. Thank you. (Applause.) And although he could not be here today, I especially want to express our gratitude to Senator Mitch McConnell for all that he did to make this achievement possible. So, thank you, Mitch. (Applause.)
I’d also like to give my appreciation to Chairman Grassley for conducting such a fair and professional confirmation. Senator Grassley. Where is Senator Grassley? (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, Senator. Finally, a profound thank you to Louise Gorsuch, and to all of the Gorsuch family. Thank you. (Applause.) And, Louise, I’ve heard it firsthand, I know what a total inspiration you are to your husband and to your entire family. So thank you very much. Fantastic. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
We are here to celebrate history — the taking of the judicial oath by the newest member of the United States Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch. Justice Gorsuch, I just want to congratulate you and your entire family. It’s something so special. In fact, I’ve always heard that the most important thing that a President of the United States does is appoint people — hopefully great people like this appointment — to the United States Supreme Court. And I can say this is a great honor. (Applause.) And I got it done in the first 100 days — that’s even nice. (Laughter.) You think that’s easy?
This ceremony has special meaning as Justice Gorsuch is filling the seat of one of the greatest Supreme Court judges in American history, and that’s Antonin Scalia, who is a terrific — was a terrific judge and a terrific person. Justice Scalia was a patriot who revered our Constitution. He was beloved by many, very many, who are here today, and he is deeply missed by all of us.
I want to at this time recognize his incredible wife, Maureen, who I got to know very well over the last short period of time. And, Maureen, please stand up. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you and your family. Thank you. Thank you, Maureen.
Americans are blessed to have in Neil Gorsuch a man who will, likewise, be a devoted servant of the law. Over the past two months, the American people have gotten to know, respect and truly admire our newest member of the United States Supreme Court. In Justice Gorsuch, they see a man of great and unquestioned integrity. They see a man of unmatched qualifications. And most of all, and most importantly, they see a man who is deeply faithful to the Constitution of the United States. He will decide cases based not on his personal preferences, but based on a fair and objective reading of the law.
Today, we have all three branches of government represented at this event. It is a very special thing — and a very special happening. And it’s worth taking just a minute to remember what it all means.
In our Founders’ incredible wisdom, they gave each branch of government a different role in our Great Republic. We have a Congress to write the laws on behalf of the people. We have a President to enforce those laws and defend our nation. And we have a Supreme Court to apply and interpret the law, in a fair and impartial manner, when disagreements arise. The Founders separated power because they knew it was the best way to protect our citizens and keep our Constitution secure.
Justice Gorsuch, you are now entrusted with the sacred duty of defending our Constitution. Our country is counting on you to be wise, impartial and fair — to serve under our laws, not over them, and to safegaurd the right of the people to govern their own affairs. I have no doubt you will rise to the occasion and that the decisions you will make will not only protect our Constitution today, but for many generations of Americans to come.
In just a moment, Justice Gorsuch will be sworn in by Justice Kennedy, a great man of outstanding accomplishment. Throughout his nearly 30 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy has been praised by all for his dedicated and dignified service. We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude, and I am honored that he is with us today. (Applause.)
This is a very, very special moment, because many years ago a young Neil Gorsuch started his legal career as a law clerk to Justice Kennedy. You remember that, right? (Laughter.) It is a fitting testament to Justice Kennedy’s impact that, upon giving the oath to Justice Gorsuch, he will become the first ever Supreme Court justice to serve with one of his former law clerks. It’s sort of a big deal, isn’t it? (Applause.) Sort of like that. That’s sort of good. It has never happened before. That’s pretty good. Also shows you have a lot of respect for this man. Very good.
We’re thrilled to share this historic moment with Justice Kennedy, with all of you here today, and with all Americans watching us at home.
Justice Gorsuch, I again congratulate you and your entire family, and I wish God’s blessings on your amazing journey ahead. I have no doubt you will go down as one of the truly great justices in the history of the United States Supreme Court.
I now invite Justice Kennedy to say a few words. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
JUSTICE KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. Chief Justice, Justice Gorsuch, and my fellow adherents to the idea and the reality of the rule of law: As many of you know, there are two oaths that a member of the federal judiciary must take. The first is the constitutional oath that so many of you are familiar with that applies to all three branches of the government. The second oath is one that applies just to federal judges.
Both of the oaths date from the founding of the Republic; the judicial oath dates from 1789. And both of these oaths remind us that we as a people are bound together, we as a people find our self-definition, our respect, our heritage, and our destiny in the Constitution.
And so, Justice Gorsuch, there is one oath remaining for you to take — the judicial oath — before you may receive and accept your commission from the President of the United States.
Are you ready, Justice Gorsuch, to take the oath?
(The oath is administered.)
JUDGE GORSUCH: I see before me so many to whom I owe so much. I know I would not be here today without your friendship and support. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
I want to thank the President for nominating me and for the great confidence and trust he’s reposed in me. I want to thank the Vice President for his constant encouragement and friendship throughout this process.
It’s not possible to mention here everyone I should mention, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the President’s counsel, Don McGahn, and Mark Paoletta, the Vice President’s counsel, and every single person in the White House Counsel’s Office for their tremendous and tireless support.
I want thank Kelly Ayotte and my day-to-day team for their humor, for their sage advice, for their faith, as we spent months and so many miles trooping together through the Senate complex. I want to thank every single person — and there are so many — in the White House and the Department of Justice who worked through so many late nights and long weeks on my behalf.
I want to thank, too, Senator McConnell and Senator Grassley and their excellent teams for their support and leadership. And I must thank my former law clerks and my dear friends who gave so much of themselves so selflessly through these last three months. You are dear to me. This is truly your doing, and this is your day.
I wish I could mention each of you by name, but you know who you are and you know your names are etched in my heart forever.
This process has reminded me just how outrageously blessed I am in my law clerks, and my family, and my friends. And I hope that I may continue to rely on each of you as I face this new challenge.
To my former colleagues and the wonderful staff of the 10th Circuit, I thank you for your faithful service and your friendship over so many years. To my new the very warm welcome. I look forward to many happy years together.
And I cannot tell you how honored I am to have here today my mentor, Justice Kennedy, administer the judicial oath, a beautiful oath, as he did for me 11 years ago when I became a Circuit judge.
To the Scalia family, I won’t ever forget that the seat I inherit today is that of a very, very great man.
To my wife, Louise, and my daughters, Emma and Bindi, thank you for your perseverance and your patience, your courage and your love. I simply could not have attempted this without you.
And to the American people, I am humbled by the trust placed in me today. I will never forget that to whom much is given, much will be expected. And I promise you that I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great nation.
Thank you. (Applause.)
11:21 A.M. EDT