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Colorado politicos react to Trump’s pick of Kavanaugh for Supreme Court

Author: Joey Bunch - July 10, 2018 - Updated: July 10, 2018

President Donald Trump greets Judge Brett Kavanaugh his Supreme Court nominee, in the East Room of the White House on July 9. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump’s selection of Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court brought swift yet predictable reactions from Colorado politicos Monday night.

Kavanaugh would succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered a moderate swing vote on the high court. The nominee’s rulings in the lower courts suggest a move to the right for the Supreme Court.

The state’s best-known liberal advocacy group, ProgressNow Colorado, cited a “record of hostility” on issues the left holds sacred, including gay rights, abortion rights, LGBTQ rights and workplace discrimination, and sought to rally Senate Democrats to block the pick.

“Tonight, Donald Trump set the final stage for the destruction of fundamental civil rights in the United States,” Ian Silverii, ProgressNow Colorado’s executive director, said in a statement. “But it is not just Donald Trump who stands at the precipice of this historic rollback of the rights of women, people of color, and LGBTQ Americans. Sen. Cory Gardner, who has supported attempts to ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest for most of his career in politics, is about to make a liar of everyone who assured the women of Colorado that Gardner’s election ‘would pose no threat to abortion rights.’ It is only now becoming clear just how wrong the pundits were in 2014.”

Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, countered: “I look forward to meeting soon with Judge Kavanaugh. Over the coming weeks, I will review his judicial record while also ensuring that Judge Kavanaugh will approach each case on its merits and follow the law as it is written. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will thoughtfully and thoroughly review this individual during the confirmation process and carefully consider him rather than making a knee-jerk decision based on politics and nothing else.”

Fellow Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Denver, said he urged Trump to chose a nominee capable of gaining bipartisan support in Senate and among Americans.

“Instead, he chose a nominee whose ideology would shift the court’s majority, thereby threatening fundamental rights and failing to check executive power,” Bennet stated Monday night. “As a result, I have grave concerns about this nomination.”

Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, cited Trump’s campaign promise to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

“Colorado is a pro-choice state that strongly supports the right to choose abortion established in Roe v. Wade,” Middleton stated. “Colorado’s U.S. Sens. Gardner and (Michael) Bennet must not just oppose but actively work to block Judge Kavanaugh from being confirmed to the court.

“The rights and lives of Colorado women depend on it.”

U.S Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver released a joint statement with California Rep. Barbara Lee, her co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus.

“We are deeply concerned about how Judge Brett Kavanaugh might rule on cases involving women’s health in general, privacy, and access to the full range of reproductive care services, including abortion care – a right that since 1973 has been protected under the Constitution,” they said. “Donald Trump’s actions on these matters since assuming the Presidency have been decisively anti-reproductive rights, and his administration has pushed anti-woman policies through regulations, as well as nominating and installing anti-choice candidates for health-related positions. We urge the Senate to scrutinize Judge Kavanaugh closely to ensure that Americans’ fundamental rights, including the right to choose, will be protected.”

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, Colorado’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, tweeted Monday night that Trump is “reshaping the courts in his own image.”

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Polis’ Republican contender in the gubernatorial race, seemed pleased with Trump’s pick.

“The President has nominated a qualified judge to the Supreme Court,” Stapleton tweeted Monday evening. “I look forward to learning more about him in the days ahead. It is important that we have judges who do not legislate from the bench and adhere to our Constitution.”

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado Springs, said in a Monday evening statement that Kavanaugh “has faithfully interpreted the Constitution and emphasized limited government. His conservative record is impressive, and I think President Trump made a great choice.”

In a rare tweet, Lamborn’s colleague, Republican U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, said late Monday that he is “excited” about Kavanaugh and urged senators to confirm him quickly.

Daniel Ramos, leader of the state’s state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, One Colorado, said Trump’s pick continues the president’s pursuit of an “anti-LGBTQ agenda.”

“With this nomination, basic rights and protections LGBTQ Coloradans rely on are now at serious risk — including the ability to adopt and foster children; protection from discrimination in employment, housing, and public spaces; and the ability to get health insurance even if you have a pre-existing condition,” Ramos said in a statement.

Colorado Republican Party chairman Jeff Hays of Colorado Springs said Republicans were again celebrating that Trump is president and not Hillary Clinton.

“Elections have consequences,” he said in a statement. “One consequence of President Trump’s election will be yet another Supreme Court justice who interprets the Constitution according to its original meaning. Judge Brett Kavanaugh will make an outstanding justice.”

Colorado’s legislative leaders also weighed in along party lines.

“The fate of civil and voting rights, reproductive freedoms and worker protections all hang in the balance with this Supreme Court nominee,” stated House Speaker Crisanta Duran of Denver. “There’s too much at stake for Colorado in this fight. Democrats, unaffiliated voters and anyone who cares about the future of our democracy should be able to have a voice on this paramount decision. I urge Sens. Bennet and Gardner to do anything they can to postpone this vote.”

Added House Majority Leader KC Becker of Boulder, “We can’t allow a Supreme Court nominee handpicked by the far-right and special interests to determine the future of our country. Colorado cannot afford an anti-environment justice who could roll back protections for the air we breathe and of our public lands. We won’t back down now and urge our senators to delay this vote.”

Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham issued a statement Tuesday morning calling Trump’s decision to pick Kavanaugh “an excellent one.”

“Kavanaugh’s extensive experience, principled dedication to the Constitution, and youthfulness are going to be valuable assets to the Court,” he said in the statement. “As with the nomination proceedings of now-Justice Neil Gorsuch, I am sure that the confirmation of Kavanaugh will be fraught with hyper-partisan division and defamation, but the fact remains that Kavanaugh was last confirmed to the Court of Appeals, via the Senate, with bipartisan support. I would urge United States Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet to vote with the American people and confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”

The Centennial Institute, the conservative think tank at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, also said the pick was a win for the constitutionalist reading of the law, citing the case of a Lakewood baker who won at the Supreme Court last month after he refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple on religious grounds in 2012.

“As we saw in the case of Jack Phillips, owner of Denver’s Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Supreme Court has been a stalwart guardian of our founding principles, including religious liberty,” stated Jeff Hunt, Colorado Christian University’s vice president for public policy. “It is a strategic priority of Colorado Christian University to advance the original intent of the U.S. Constitution. Judge Kavanaugh will do just that.”

Colorado Politics Digital Editor Erin Prater contributed to this report.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.