U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet won’t vote for Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, despite splitting from most of his Democratic colleagues and voting Thursday to end debate on Gorsuch’s nomination.
Both positions were expected from Bennet, who has walked a careful line on this issue.
After keeping quiet for several weeks, Bennet said Monday he would not support a filibuster of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Just a few hours after he went public, Democrats announced they had the 40 votes necessary to block a vote on Gorsuch without Bennet.
The cloture vote took place Thursday morning, and Bennet cast his expected yes vote after 42 of his Democratic colleagues had already voted no. The cloture vote is a vote to limit debate. A yes vote on cloture is a no vote on the filibuster.
The final vote was 55-45, but it would have taken 60 votes to end debate.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, has been a supporter and fan of Gorsuch and voted with his party for cloture.
Republicans then did as they had promised and invoked “the nuclear option,” which changes Senate rules to get rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. This is what Bennet didn’t want to see but also what has seemed the inevitable course of events.
Bennet voted against ending the 60-vote threshold. That was a party-line vote.
A vote on Gorsuch’s nomination is set for Friday.
After the cloture vote, Bennet made his position clear.
“I am proud Judge Gorsuch is from Colorado,” he said in a statement posted to Facebook. “He is a qualified judge who deserves an up-or-down vote. That is the tradition of the Senate, and it is why I opposed a filibuster before the rule change.
“Judge Gorsuch is a very conservative judge and not one that I would have chosen,” he continued. “For the reasons I have said, I had concerns about his approach to the law. Those concerns grow even more significant as we confront the reality that President Trump may have several more opportunities to transform the Court with a partisan majority. For all these reasons, I will vote no on the nomination.”
Here’s Bennet’s speech asking for those rules not to be changed. It’s long and involves references to the decline of ancient Greece and Rome. Bennet, a centrist by nature, clearly doesn’t think we’re on a good path.