Sen. Michael Bennet made a case to avert the Senate filibuster of Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday evening, but not nearly as much of a case for his fellow Coloradan.
“Qualified nominees deserve an up or down vote,” Bennet said in his 18-minute address to the Senate
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., scheduled a Thursday cloture vote, which determines if the debate continues or moves on to a final confirmation vote.
Republicans have 52 seats, meaning they have the votes to confirm. They don’t have the 60 votes they need to end a filibuster.
If Democrats cling to the 41 votes to filibuster, McConnell could ask the Senate to change the rules to require only a simple majority to break proceed, the so-called nuclear option.
After that, a vote could be held after 30 hours passes, according to Senate rules.
The rules of the Senate on Supreme Court nominees, however, would be changed forever, the Colorado senator warned.
Without the ability for Democrats to filibuster in the future, the current 52-member Senate caucus could confirm any nominee President Trump sends them, regardless of how extreme, Bennet said.
“We must not go down this road,” he told the chamber.
Bennet has been an enigma in a pool of political speculation since Trump nominated the Colorado-born federal appeals court judge. His closest friends and allies urged him to support Gorsuch.
Major Democratic organizations have urged him to voted no. Bennet, however, isn’t up for re-election for five more years, an eternity in politics.
Bennet spoke only a couple of minutes about the nominee Wednesday.
“With respect to Judge Gorsuch, I’m proud he’s from Colorado,” Bennet said. “But I’m concerned about his judicial approach. He too often seems to rely on the narrowest interpretation of the law, with little appreciation for its context.”
He said Gorsuch has “far too much confidence” in the original meaning of laws created by legislation or enshrined in the Constitution.
After a decade of lawmaking Bennet said, “I know these words, so often written in the dead of night, in meager attempts to let everybody go home, cannot be explained without reference to legislative context or human history or lawmakers’ intent.
“Sometimes a comma really does end up in the wrong place.”
Bennet added, “Although I have reservations about his approach to the law, I do not have reservations about his qualifications for the court. He’s a committed and honorable public servant, and that’s why so many members of the Colorado bar and bench support his nomination.”