Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate on Friday by a 54 to 45 vote as the 113th justice to serve on the nation’s highest court. His path to confirmation was short by modern standards, 65 days, NPR reports. It was accomplished with a historic vote to end the U.S. Senate’s filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees. Gorsuch will take the place of Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon who died more than a year ago. The soon-to-be justice is a conservative who adheres to many of the same positions that Scalia did. Some believe that Gorsuch will be more conservative. While Scalia was enormously well-liked and admired by fellow justices, his harsh written rhetoric sometimes diminished his influence on the court. Gorsuch is known for his clear writing, but not for a harsh or dismissive style. That could make him an influential justice on a court that is often closely divided on some major issues.
Though he obfuscated and evaded on many questions put to him during his confirmation hearing, all indications are that he will vote most often with the court’s conservative block, providing a fifth vote for a conservative majority in 5-to-4 cases. The Supreme Court so far this year has punted on controversial issues, seemingly to avoid an indecisive 4-4 tie. It has cases pending before it for next term that, if granted for review, could expand gun rights to include carrying concealed firearms in public; uphold state voting restrictions that critics contend are aimed at suppressing minority voter turnout; and allow business owners to refuse to serve gay couples, based on religious objections.