Neil Gorsuch took his place as a Supreme Court Justice Thursday, assuming his position next to the eight other justices who have been operating shorthanded for the last 14 months since the death of Antonin Scalia. However, even though he is part of the most prestigious court in the nation, some of his duties may not be that glamorous.
Gorsuch, 49, is the junior justice on the Supreme Court, and that means watching the door is part of his job. Whenever a law clerk, or anyone else, requests entry into the room, Gorsuch will be the one who has to get up and answer the door.
Some of the other duties assigned to the junior justice include taking notes during private conferences between the justices and serving as the liaison to the cafeteria committee.
As reported by USA Today, the road to the Supreme Court was not an easy one for Gorsuch. He was one of 21 conservatives initially considered for the seat by President Donald Trump. His confirmation hearing involved over 20 hours of questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee and a filibuster from Democrats on the Senate floor delayed the process.
Gorsuch was sworn in on Monday, having only three days to prepare before taking his seat. Now, the former federal appeals court judge will sit in the far-left position of the bench or the corner of the large conference table. He will also be the last to speak when cases are being decided and will likely deal with regular interruptions from his colleagues.
Justice Elena Kagan was the former junior justice, holding the position for six years and eight months. Kagan referred to the duties as “a form of hazing.”
“Literally, if there is a knock on the door and I don’t hear it, there will not be a single other person who will move,” said Kagan when discussing the position. Former Justice Tom Clark even referred to the job as “the highest-paid doorkeeper in the world.”
However, there are times when the junior justice’s thoughts on a case carry significant weight. As the last vote to be cast on any issue, Gorsuch will be responsible for the deciding vote cases where the votes of his more senior colleagues result in a 4-4 tie.
As Chief Justice John Roberts once said during an interview on ABC’s Nightline, “There are those times when it’s four-to-four, and then people are very much interested in what the junior justice has to say.”