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GUEST COLUMN: Senate should confirm Judge Gorsuch

By: Cory Gardner
April 6, 2017 Updated: April 6, 2017 at 4:08 pm
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The United States Senate will vote this week on the nomination of one of the most qualified, well-respected judges in the United States. Colorado's Judge Neil Gorsuch is a mainstream jurist who has the right temperament and philosophy to serve on our nation's highest court. He has been praised by both Democrats and Republicans as being one of the country's brightest legal minds, and I'm confident he will serve our country well.

Unfortunately, a partisan minority in the Senate, led by Senator Chuck Schumer, is now vowing to block Judge Gorsuch's nomination. Before a final vote on the nomination can occur, the Senate will first have to agree to a procedural motion to close debate. If the Democrats follow through on their threat and block this typically unnecessary procedural motion, it would mark an unprecedented level of obstruction and be the first time in the 230-year history of the United States Senate that a partisan minority has successfully filibustered a Supreme Court nominee.

In 2006, when Judge Gorsuch was unanimously confirmed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 12 current Democratic senators, including Senators Schumer, Leahy, Feinstein, and Durbin, as well as then-Senators Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry, supported his nomination. Fast-forward 11 years and now-Minority Leader Schumer is playing politics.

While I didn't always agree with the politics of President Obama's nominees, in carrying out the Senate's advice-and-consent role I thought we had a duty to give qualified, committee-approved nominees an up-or-down vote. That's why I never filibustered an Obama nominee. My colleagues are free to vote against Judge Gorsuch, but they should abandon their attempt to filibuster his nomination and follow the 230-year-old Senate practice of requiring a simple majority vote. A supremely qualified jurist like Judge Gorsuch deserves nothing less.

Senator Schumer has publicly stated that Republicans shouldn't change the rules but instead "change the nominee." However, I'm afraid this argument rings hollow, because if Judge Gorsuch is not considered a good enough nominee, then I think it is pretty clear that no nominee will satisfy the minority.

This point becomes even more evident when you look at Judge Gorsuch's record. While a partisan minority continues to claim that Judge Gorsuch is not a mainstream candidate, his record on a court with a Democrat-appointed majority shows otherwise. In the more than 2,700 cases he has participated in since joining the 10th Circuit in 2006, Judge Gorsuch has been in the majority 99 percent of the time. Ninety-seven percent of those cases were decided unanimously.

Although I take comfort in the words and leadership of a handful of Senate Democrats who have honorably broken rank and called for an up-or-down vote, I fear we have passed a point of no return. Since 2013, when then-Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the nuclear option and broke the rules to change the rules, judicial nominations have become a hyperpartisan enterprise. That does not, however, mean we should or will allow a partisan minority to frustrate the will of a bipartisan majority of senators by denying Judge Gorsuch the process due under Senate practice and precedent — a simple majority vote. I intend to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure this vote happens.

In November, the American people went to the polls and chose their next president. Many of these voters voted for President Trump with the Supreme Court in mind. I urge my colleagues to listen to the American people, and show the country we know how to set aside petty partisan politics.

In an opinion piece that was published in the Pueblo Chieftain earlier this year, I wrote, "The Senate should evaluate and confirm Gorsuch on his merits and merits alone." I stand by that statement and urge my colleagues to do the same.

Cory Gardner is a U.S. senator from Colorado.

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