The Senate voted 56-41 on Thursday to confirm Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, filling the vacancy created by Justice Neil Gorsuch's elevation to the U.S. Supreme Court, with both Colorado senators, Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner, voting in favor of her confirmation.
Eid's nod means that Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper will get his fourth appointment to the seven-member Colorado Supreme Court.
Gardner, who has known Eid since she taught at the University of Colorado Law School while he was a student there, applauded her confirmation Thursday in a statement.
"Allison Eid will make Colorado proud as she assumes her new position on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Allison's experience as Colorado's solicitor general, serving on Colorado's Supreme Court, and teaching at CU Law will all contribute to her success on the 10th Circuit. Her devotion to the Constitution and the rule of law make her a tremendous choice, and I'm looking forward to her service to our country," Gardner said.
Bennet was among four Democrats who crossed party lines to support Eid, along with Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. Donnelly, Heitkamp and Manchin are all up for re-election in 2018 in states President Trump won in 2016.
A Bennet spokeswoman said the senator voted to confirm Eid despite her conservative approach to the law in part because she's replacing the conservative Gorsuch on the Denver-based federal appeals court so won't change the court's make-up.
"Michael supported Justice Eid's nomination to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals," Bennet's press secretary, Laurie Cipriano, told Colorado Politics. "While he does not agree with her conservative judicial philosophy, her appointment will not change the composition of the 10th Circuit. He believes her time on the Colorado Supreme Court, as well as her other experiences, make her qualified for this position."
Twelve judges sit on the 10th Circuit court, which hears appeals on federal cases from Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.
The head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights derided Eid's confirmation, charging her "conservative extremism" is part of a Trump agenda to set back civil rights via the federal courts.
"For the third time this week, the rubber-stamp Republican Senate confirmed another one of President Trump's extreme judicial nominees," Vanita Gupta, the conference's president and CEO, said in a statement. "Justice Eid has a record of conservative extremism. She has consistently rejected civil rights and public interest claims as a dissenting member of the Colorado Supreme Court. It's no wonder she was included in the list of President Trump's 21 Supreme Court candidates assembled last year by the ultra-conservative Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation.
"Justice Eid and the other judges confirmed this week will set back the progress our nation has made on civil and human rights, and they are a central part of President Trump's effort to advance his extreme agenda in the federal courts."
Eid is the third female federal appeals court judge nominated by President Trump that the Senate has confirmed this week following the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday and Joan Larsen to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.
A former clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Eid came under heavy criticism from Senate Democrats for her judicial decisions, including support for school vouchers, siding with authorities in a case concerning cellphone privacy and an opinion that Colorado employers can fire workers for using marijuana after the state legalized it.
Gardner praised Eid in remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday night.
"While Justice Eid cares very deeply about the law, she cares very deeply about robust debate and hearing the views of others. And I know from my classmates who had Justice Eid as their professor - those classmates of mine who did not always agree with her perspectives - that Justice Eid was open to their debate, hearing their views, she engaged them. And she was never biased against the different perspectives, but always applying the law as the law required, not as opinions suited," he said.
Eid, a former state solicitor general under then-Attorney General John Suthers, has served on the state Supreme Court since 2006, when she was appointed to the high court by Republican Gov. Bill Owens. Her husband, Troy Eid, practices law at the Denver office of Greenberg Traurig LLP, and was Colorado's U.S. attorney during the George W. Bush administration.
Gardner also introduced Eid at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling her a "mainstream, commonsense Westerner" who decides cases based on the law.
- The Washington Examiner and Associated Press contributed to this story.