DENVER (CBS4) – Moments after President Donald Trump announced he was nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Colorado political leaders chimed in.
Sen. Cory Gardner was among the first to support the president’s decision, saying in part, “I look forward to meeting with Judge Amy Coney Barrett and thoroughly examining her judicial record as I fulfill my constitutional duty of advice and consent.”
The American people elected a President and Senate majority who committed to nominating and confirming judges who follow the Constitution, uphold the law, and refuse to legislate from the bench.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) September 26, 2020
The Colorado Democratic Party countered, saying the president’s choice is anti-choice and anti-Affordable Care Act.
“Senator Cory Gardner cowardly caved to Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell and gave his party bosses the greenlight to rush a Supreme Court justice through that could overturn the Affordable Care Act — gutting protections for people with pre-existing conditions — and put Roe v. Wade on the chopping block. Plain and simple, Senator Gardner sold Coloradans out.”
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is running against Gardner for Senate, said, “A lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court is too important to be rushed through 38 days before the election.”
Barrett served as a former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia and said she was “truly humbled” by the nomination. She added Scalia’s conservative approach mirrors her own.
She would be the sixth justice on the nine-member court to be appointed by a Republican president, and the third of Trump’s first term in office.
Hearings are reportedly to begin on Oct. 12.
No court nominee has been considered so close to a presidential election before, with early voting already underway. He encouraged legislators to take up her nomination swiftly and asked Democrats to “refrain from personal and partisan attacks.”
In 2016, Republicans blocked Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court to fill the election-year vacancy, saying voters should have a say in the lifetime appointment. Senate Republicans say they will move ahead this time, arguing the circumstances are different now that the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will vote “in the weeks ahead” on Barrett’s confirmation. Hearings are set to begin Oct. 12.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that a vote to confirm Barrett to the high court would be a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act. Schumer added that the president was once again putting “Americans’ healthcare in the crosshairs” even while the coronavirus pandemic rages.
Biden took that route of criticism, as well, framing Trump’s choice as another move in Republicans’ effort to scrap the 2010 health care law passed by his former boss, President Barack Obama.
The set design at the Rose Garden, with large American flags hung between the colonnades, appeared to be modeled on the way the White House was decorated when President Bill Clinton nominated Ginsburg in 1993.
Barrett, recognizing that flags were still lowered in recognition of Ginsburg’s death, said she would be “mindful of who came before me.” Although they have different judicial philosophies, Barrett praised Ginsburg as a trailblazer for women and for her friendship with Scalia, saying, “She has won the admiration of women across the country and indeed all across the world.”
Within hours of Ginsburg’s death, Trump made clear he would nominate a woman for the seat. Barrett was the early favorite and the only one to meet with Trump.
Barrett has been a judge since 2017, when Trump nominated her to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But as a longtime University of Notre Dame law professor, she had already established herself as a reliable conservative in the mold of Scalia, for whom she clerked in the late 1990s.
She would be the only justice on the current court not to have received her law degree from an Ivy League school. The eight current justices all attended either Harvard or Yale.
The staunch conservative had become known to Trump in large part after her bitter 2017 appeals court confirmation included allegations that Democrats were attacking her Catholic faith. The president also interviewed her in 2018 for the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, but Trump ultimately chose Brett Kavanaugh.
Trump and his political allies are itching for another fight over Barrett’s faith, seeing it as a political windfall that would backfire on Democrats. Catholic voters in Pennsylvania, in particular, are viewed as a pivotal demographic in the swing state that Biden, also Catholic, is trying to recapture.
While Democrats appear powerless to stop Barrett’s confirmation in the GOP-controlled Senate, they are seeking to use the process to weaken Trump’s reelection chances.
Barrett’s nomination could become a reckoning over abortion, an issue that has divided many Americans so bitterly for almost half a century. The idea of overturning or gutting Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion, has animated activists in both parties for decades. Now, with the seemingly decisive shift in the court’s ideological makeup, Democrats hope their voters will turn out in droves because of their frustration with the Barrett pick.
Trump has also increasingly embraced the high court — on which he will have had an outsize hand in reshaping -– as an insurance policy in a close election.
Increases in mail, absentee and early voting brought about by the coronavirus pandemic have already led to a flurry of election litigation, and both Trump and Biden have assembled armies of lawyers to continue the fight once vote-counting begins. Trump has been open about tying his push to name a third justice to the court to a potentially drawn-out court fight to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20, 2021.
“I think this will end up in the Supreme Court,” Trump said Wednesday of the election. “And I think it’s very important that we have nine justices.”
No Democratic senators are expected to vote to confirm Barrett before the election, even though some did support her in 2017.
Two Democrats still serving in the Senate who voted to confirm Barrett in 2017, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, now say it’s too close to the election to consider her nomination.
Meanwhile, outside conservative groups are planning to spend more than $25 million to support Trump and his nominee. The Judicial Crisis Network has organized a coalition that includes American First Policies, the Susan B. Anthony List, the Club for Growth and the group Catholic Vote to help confirm Barrett. The Republican National Committee has launched a $10 million digital campaign of its own, in conjunction with Trump’s reelection campaign.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)