DENVER – Colorado’s Democratic Senator, Michael Bennet, joined his Republican counterpart, Sen. Cory Gardner, in introducing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a move Bennet said was aimed at bridging Congress’s partisan divide.
At Monday’s introduction of Gorsuch, who is from Colorado and has spent the past several years as a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Bennet lamented his colleagues’ failure to give President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing – in some cases, not even a meeting.
“The Senate’s failure to do its duty with respect to Judge Garland was an embarrassment to this body and will be recorded in history and in the lives of millions of Americans,” Bennet said. “It is tempting to deny Judge Gorsuch a fair hearing because of the senate’s prior failure.”
But despite highlighting Gorsuch’s Colorado roots and praising his “distinguished record of public service, private practice, and outstanding integrity and intellect,” Bennet stopped short of endorsing Gorsuch, saying he was “keeping an open mind” about whether or not he might vote to confirm him in a full Senate hearing.
“Two wrongs never make a right,” he told the committee. “The Supreme Court is too important for us not to find a way to end our destructive gridlock and bitter partisanship. In my mind, I consider Judge Gorsuch as a candidate to fill the Garland seat on the Supreme Court. And our of respect for both Judge Garland and Judge Gorsuch’s service, integrity and commitment to the rule of law, I suggest we fulfill our responsibility.”
Gardner sung Gorsuch’s praises as a legal mind and as a Coloradan in his remarks to the committee, citing some of Gorsuch’s own words while laying out why he believes Gorsuch should be confirmed.
“Judge Gorsuch is not an activist judge, but rather a faithful adherent to and ardent defender of our Constitution,” Gardner said. “Judge Gorsuch appreciates the rule of law and respects the considered judgement of those who came before him. As he said, ‘A good judge will seek to honor precedent and strive to avoid its disparagement or displacement.’”
Gardner said he hopes Gorsuch will receive “a fair hearing” that he would work with “colleagues on both sides of the aisle to expeditiously confirm his nomination.”
Republicans will have to get at least 10 Democrats and independents to vote for Gorsuch, as the filibuster in the Senate removed by Democrats during the Obama administration still applies to Supreme Court nominees.
But the Judiciary committee will have the first say. It usually either recommends a nominee favorably or unfavorably before sending the final vote to the full Senate. Chairman Chuck Grassley has said he would like a final vote from his committee on Gorsuch’s nomination by April 3.