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Bennet praises Gorsuch, chastises GOP, still might filibuster

March 20, 2017 Updated: March 20, 2017 at 4:53 pm
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Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, March 20, 2017, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, the Democrat from Denver, sure sounded like he wouldn't support a filibuster to block the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, a Republican from Denver, for the U.S. Supreme Court.

As he introduced Gorsuch to the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday for confirmation hearings, Bennet heartily praised Gorsuch and admonished Republicans for blocking the confirmation of President Obama's nominee last year.

Soon after, his spokeswoman Laurie Cipriano said Bennet hasn't decided whether he would join a filibuster.

Cipriano released a transcript of the senator's remarks and highlighted in yellow, "Michael will not take a position on Judge Gorsuch's nomination until after the hearings."

Bennet has faced pressure from Coloradans, including top Democrats and allies, to support his fellow Denverite.

Republicans have 52 votes in the Senate to confirm, but would need 60 to break a filibuster.

"As a person and a lawyer, Judge Gorsuch's exemplifies some of the finest qualities of Colorado, a state filled with people who are kind to one another, whom by and large, don't share the conceit that one party or one ideology is all right and the other all wrong," Bennet said, thumbing the pages of prepared remarks.

Bennet noted that Republicans had denied a hearing for Merrick Garland, President Obama's nominee to fill the seat Gorsuch is seeking, last year.

"The Senate's failure to do its duty with respect to Judge Garland was an embarrassment to this body that will be recorded in history and in the lives of millions of Americans," Bennet said. "And, it is tempting to deny Judge Gorsuch a fair hearing because of the Senate's prior failure.

"But, Mr. Chairman, two wrongs never make a right."

Fellow Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, was solidly on the Gorsuch bandwagon.

"Judge Gorsuch's nomination helps recognize that indeed there are highly qualified jurists west of the Mississippi River," Gardner told the committee.

He noted Gorsuch is a fourth-generation Coloradan, a skier, a fly fisherman and a member of an appeals court based in Denver that hears cases for 20 percent of the lower nation's land mass. Bennet said Gorsuch's "family roots reflect the grit and determination that built the West."

Gorsuch will be only the second Coloradan to serve on the high court, joining the late Justice Byron White.

He joked that Gorsuch would be the first Coloradan to serve on the Supreme Court who did not lead the NFL in rushing, as White did in 1937.

The hearings continue Tuesday and are available to watch online.

The Senate is expected to vote on Gorsuch's nomination on April 3.

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