Colorado’s Cory Gardner won’t oppose Trump SCOTUS nomination

Cory Gardner may well have closed the door on any chance of the U.S. Senate blocking President Donald Trump’s forthcoming Supreme Court nominee.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, Gardner made clear he will not oppose that nominee, saying that he will vote to confirm a “qualified” person to fill the seat held for 27 years by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday.

“When a President exercises constitutional authority to nominate a judge for the Supreme Court vacancy, the Senate must decide how to best fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent. I have and will continue to support judicial nominees who will protect our Constitution, not legislate from the bench, and uphold the law. Should a qualified nominee who meets this criteria be put forward, I will vote to confirm,” Gardner said in a statement.

President Donald Trump has vowed to name his nominee in the coming days. Fifty-one senators would have to reject a nomination to actually stop it, and there are only 47 Democrats in the Senate. To date, just two Republicans — Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins — have spoken against voting on a new justice before Inauguration Day. National political observers see a low likelihood that two more senators will join Murkowski and Collins.

Faced with a nearly identical decision in 2016 over a Democratic appointment, Gardner took the opposite position. He joined other Senate Republicans that year in blocking the consideration of Merrick Garland, then-President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the high court.

Upon the death of Scalia in February of that year, Gardner said, “I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.”

Gardner’s election opponent, the Democrat and former Gov. John Hickenlooper, criticized Gardner’s stance in a statement Monday evening: “Hours after Donald Trump pressured him to get in line, Cory Gardner dutifully obeyed. In 2016, Senator Gardner set a clear standard that the people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court Justice — but now he broke it to stand with the president at the expense of Colorado, as he’s done 100% of the time.”

This is a developing story and it will be updated.

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