Senate

Gardner signals support for taking up Supreme Court nominee this year

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is facing a tough reelection bid, signaled on Monday that he will not oppose taking up a Supreme Court nominee this year to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat. 

 

"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," Gardner said in a statement. 

 

"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," he added. 

 

Gardner's decision comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appears increasingly likely to have locked the support within the Republican caucus for moving President Trump's forthcoming Supreme Court nominee. 

 

With a 53-47 Senate majority, McConnell can lose three GOP senators and still let Vice President Pence break a tie. If Pence breaks a tie, it would be the first time a vice president has been needed to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. 

 

McConnell has not said if he will try to move forward with a Supreme Court justice before the November election, only saying on the Senate floor earlier Monday that it would get a vote this year. Democrats need four GOP senators to side with them to prevent McConnell from doing so. 

 

So far, only two GOP senators - Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) - have said they do not think a nominee should move before the Nov. 3 election. 

 

Several other GOP senators viewed as swing votes have fallen in line behind McConnell's strategy as he's worked to lock down key Republican votes

 

As of Monday morning, there were three GOP senators viewed as votes to watch: Gardner, Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah). 

 

But Grassley indicated in a statement early Monday evening his openness to confirming a Supreme Court justice this year. 

 

"The Constitution gives the Senate that authority, and the American people's voices in the most recent election couldn't be clearer. While there was ambiguity about the American people's will for the direction of the Supreme Court in 2016 under a divided government, there is no such ambiguity in 2020," Grassley said. 

 

That leaves Romney as the last key swing vote. But even if he sided with Democrats and all Democrats voted against a nominee, that would likely result in a 50-50 tie Pence could break. 

 

Romney said on Monday that he was undecided and wanted to talk to McConnell and his colleagues during a closed-door lunch on Tuesday.

 

"Before I have any comment, I'm going to meet with my colleagues, which I'll be doing tomorrow. And if I have something at that point, I'll let you know what it is, but until then, I need to be waiting and get a chance to speak with those colleagues," he told reporters. 

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