Trump Visits Supreme Court for Neil Gorsuch’s Formal Welcome
The president, who has made blistering remarks about judges and whose travel ban is before the court, made no public remarks, instead watching a piece of pomp steeped in history.
WASHINGTON — President Trump, who is awaiting word from the Supreme Court on the fate of his travel ban, paid his first visit to the court on Thursday for a formal ceremony welcoming his appointee, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.
Mr. Trump has been sharply critical of federal judges, including Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. (“an absolute disaster”) and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (“her mind is shot”). He made no public remarks at the court on Thursday, watching the proceedings from a seat reserved for prominent visitors.
Chief Justice Roberts greeted Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, from the bench. “Mr. President,” the chief justice said, “I extend to you and the first lady a warm welcome.”
Justice Gorsuch joined the Supreme Court more than two months ago and has been hard at work. In April, he was an active participant in the current term’s final arguments. He issued his first opinion this week, and it was lively, polished and unanimous.
But one piece of pomp remained: his formal investiture. The proceedings were “purely ceremonial,” the court’s public information office noted, but they were stately and steeped in history.
Justice Gorsuch was, for instance, initially seated facing the bench in a chair that had been used by Chief Justice John Marshall.
The ceremony was attended by lawmakers, federal judges, current and former Justice Department officials and members of Justice Gorsuch’s family.
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein made a motion to have the clerk of the court read Justice Gorsuch’s presidential commission. Chief Justice Roberts, without particular deliberation, granted the motion.
The commission, on parchment bearing elaborate legal language, was duly read. It said Justice Gorsuch possessed “wisdom, uprightness and learning.”
Chief Justice Roberts administered the judicial oath, and Justice Gorsuch promised to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.” Justice Gorsuch placed special emphasis on the oath’s concluding clause: “So help me God.”
Justice Gorsuch then took his seat on the far side of the bench, the spot reserved for the most junior member of the court.
The courtroom erupted in applause, and Mr. Trump beamed and clapped.
Justice Gorsuch was appointed to the Supreme Court by Mr. Trump after an extended and bitter fight over the seat left vacant by the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Republicans refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick B. Garland, saying that the next president should choose Justice Scalia’s successor.
The ceremony lasted just a few minutes. The chief justice and his new colleague then walked down the front steps of the courthouse as photographers captured the image. They were joined at the base of the steps by Justice Gorsuch’s wife, Louise, for more photographs.
Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Gorsuch chatted as they descended, outside reporters’ earshot.