Ahead of the Supreme Court March madness of confirmation hearings next month, Colorado conservatives are putting a full-court press on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Denver to support Neil Gorsuch.
Bennet has not said how he will vote on Gorsuch, who serves on the federal appeals court in Denver.
At a press conference Thursday conservative leaders called on Bennet not to play politics with a qualified fellow Coloradan, who they called a mainstream candidate who rules based on the law, not his opinion. The press conference was in the state Capitol, where Gorsuch’s mother and stepfather both served as legislators before they were married.
“The only people I’ve met or talked to who are opposed to this nomination are a few politicians who are either running for office today or thinking about it in the future,” said state Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs.
Hill said Colorado Senate Republicans confirm qualified candidates, regardless of party. He called that a Colorado value. He answered a question whether he was calling out Bennet’s Colorado values if he votes against Gorsuch.
“if he votes against Judge Gorsuch, I won’t be the only one saying that,” Hill replied.
Indeed, after Gorsuch’s nomination last month, Neil Katyal, an acting solicitor general for President Obama, wrote in the New York Times, “I am hard pressed to think of one thing President Trump has done right in the last 11 days since he was inaugurated, until Tuesday, when he nominated an extraordinary judge and man, Neil Gorsuch, to be a justice on the Supreme Court.”
The Washington Post said Trump “gave Democrats a gift,” compared to the kind of conservative Trump could have picked. Nonetheless, abortion-rights advocates are leery of Gorsuch, as they will likely be on Trump’s future nominees.
if a filibuster on Gorsuch is destined to fail, Democrats might let Gorsuch slide and mount a more aggressive fight against a more conservative nominee.
“Michael is focused on learning more about the nominee’s judicial philosophy through his opinions and his hearing,” Bennet’s spokeswoman, Laurie Cipriano, said Thursday. “We are confident that Judge Gorsuch will receive the fair consideration that Judge Garland was denied.”
Jeff Wasden, president of the Colorado Business Roundtable, spoke directly to Bennet in his address at the press conference.
“Sen. Bennet, the eyes of the nation are upon you.,” he said. “The pressure is going to mount exponentially as this nation watches your role, your actions in the confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch.
“Will you recognize the incredible opportunity Colorado and Western states will realize by having one or our own Coloradans serving on the bench, someone who understands water rights, someone who understands land-use issues, someone who is widely viewed as a thoughtful, measured, qualified, constitutional candidate, or will you bow to political pressure from within your own party and outside?”
Colorado, overall, supports abortion rights, said NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado executive director Karen Middleton. She called on senators to push Gorsuch to answer about his support or opposition to Roe v. Wade.
“What we have seen from Judge Gorsuch is troubling,” Middleton said in a statement. “Judge Gorsuch has a record of ruling in a way that does not reflect Colorado values on reproductive rights, because he has consistently ruled against contraceptive access.”
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican. said she supports Gorsuch “in the strongest possible terms.”
“The president has indeed made an excellent choice for the people of America,” she said. “Judge Gorsuch is an extremely well-qualified and respected U.S. Supreme Court nominee. He not only has a brilliant legal mind but he has both the experience and temperament needed to serve on our nation’s highest court.”