DENVER (CBS4)– Sen. Michael Bennet says he will vote no on Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination after the Senate went for the “nuclear option” on Thursday.
Bennet said that with Senate Republicans changing the rules on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominees after Senate Democrats filibustered the nomination, he can no longer vote in favor of the judge from Colorado.
Republicans invoked the “nuclear option” in the Senate Thursday, unilaterally rewriting the chamber’s rules to allow President Donald Trump’s nominee to ascend to the Supreme Court.
Furious Democrats objected until the end, but their efforts to block Judge Neil Gorsuch failed as expected. Lawmakers of both parties bemoaned the long-term implications for the Senate, the court and the country.
Bennet released this statement:
“Today’s changes to the Senate’s rules have done lasting damage to the Supreme Court and our process for approving nominees,” Bennet said. “With these changes, justices may now be confirmed with the narrowest partisan majority. Allowing the judiciary to become a pure extension of our partisan politics is precisely the outcome our Founders feared. Moving forward, lifetime appointments to our highest court could become just another political exercise.
“We cannot ignore this new reality, and I am forced to consider President Trump’s current nominee and all future nominees in that context.
“I am proud Judge Gorsuch is from Colorado. He is a qualified judge who deserves an up-or-down vote. That is the tradition of the Senate, and it is why I opposed a filibuster before the rule change.
“Judge Gorsuch is a very conservative judge and not one that I would have chosen. For the reasons I have said, I had concerns about his approach to the law. Those concerns grow even more significant as we confront the reality that President Trump may have several more opportunities to transform the Court with a partisan majority.
“For all these reasons, I will vote no on the nomination.”
Republican Senator Cory Gardner spoke on the Senate floor on Thursday, in support of Gorsuch.
The Thursday morning maneuvering played out in an atmosphere of tension in the Senate chamber with most senators in their seats, a rare and theatrical occurrence.
First Democrats mounted a filibuster in an effort to block Gorsuch by denying him the 60 votes needed to advance to a final vote. Then Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky raised a point of order, suggesting that Supreme Court nominees should not be subjected to a 60-vote threshold but instead a simple majority in the 100-member Senate.
McConnell was overruled, but appealed the ruling. And on that he prevailed on a 52-48 party line vote. The 60-vote filibuster requirement on Supreme Court nominees was effectively gone, and with it the last vestige of bipartisanship on presidential nominees in an increasingly polarized Senate.
A final confirmation vote on Gorsuch is expected Friday and he could then be sworn in in time to take his seat on the court later this month and hear the final cases of the term.