WASHINGTON – Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet will vote “no” on Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, he said Thursday after Senate Republicans invoked the “nuclear option” to require only a simple majority vote for the Colorado judge’s confirmation.
“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,” Bennet, a Democrat, said in a statement. “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,” he said.
Earlier Thursday, Bennet ended debate on Gorsuch’s nomination, thus voting against a filibuster undertaken by most of his Democratic Senate colleagues, as he said he would do earlier this week.
Democrats have voiced concern over many of Gorsuch’s past opinions, which Republicans say is unfounded.
But Republicans voted to invoke the “nuclear option” that will from now require just 51 votes to confirm a Supreme Court justice – something Bennet also cautioned against. Previously, nominees for the court needed to get 60 votes to be confirmed.
“Today’s changes to the Senate’s rules have done lasting damage to the Supreme Court and our process for approving nominees. With these changes, justices may now be confirmed with the narrowest partisan majority,” Bennet said. “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.”
He said the changes amount to a “new reality.”
Following the institution of the nuclear option, the Senate voted for cloture once again, setting the stage for what is likely to be at least 24 hours more of debate before a final vote on Gorsuch's confirmation takes place Friday.
Bennet’s fellow Colorado senator, says he will support Gorsuch, and spoke again on the Senate floor in favor of Gorsuch after he and fellow Republicans invoked the nuclear option.
Both Gardner and Bennet introduced Gorsuch, a Colorado native who has spent the past several years as a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, to the Senate at the onset of the confirmation hearings last month.
Bennet was one of four Democrats who said they wouldn't filibuster Gorsuch's confirmation, but the only of the three who did not pledge to vote for the judge. Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin all have said they would support Gorsuch.
A final vote is expected to happen Friday.