Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado Republican, said Monday he would vote to confirm a “qualified nominee” for the Supreme Court who upholds the Constitution, giving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell another vote in favor of filling the vacancy.
“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,” said Mr. Gardner 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.”
Mr. Gardner, locked in a tight reelection bid against former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, represents a critical vote in the GOP push to approve a nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday at 87 of pancreatic cancer.
Democrats have called for Mr. McConnell to wait until after the presidential inauguration, when the White House and Senate could change hands, to hold a vote on the next justice.
Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, said Mr. Gardner’s decision was “not surprising to me at all.”
“I believe that once we get the nominee, that nominee will be highly capable,” said Mr. Cotton on Fox News. “The Senate will be thorough and careful. We won’t cut corners, we won’t skip steps, but there is more than enough time to confirm the president’s nominee, perhaps before the election, certainly by the end of the year.”
In 2016, Mr. Gardner supported Mr. McConnell’s decision not to hold a vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, saying in a press release that the “next president of the United States should have an opportunity to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court,” according to the Denver Post.
Mr. McConnell would need 50 of the Senate’s 53 Republicans, with Vice President Mike Pence as a tie-breaker, to vote for President Trump’s nominee to the high court. Mr. Trump is expected to name his pick by the end of the week.
So far only two Republican senators, Connecticut’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, have said they will not vote to confirm a nominee before the Nov. 3 election.