Hours after protesters gathered outside his Denver office Monday demanding that he hold his vote on a Supreme Court Justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) released a statement that he would vote to confirm a “qualified nominee” for the Supreme Court Justice put forward by Trump.
Speakers at the event used their time to praise Ginsburg’s memory but also to condemn politicization of her death. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that the Senate will vote for President Donald Trump’s replacement candidate before the presidential election Nov. 3.
Denver School Board Director Tay Anderson spoke about Gardner’s support of McConnell’s decision to delay a vote to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court in 2016 because it was an election year.
“The story should be about our message here today,” Anderson told the crowd. “And the message is that we are ready to go. We are ready to hold Cory Gardner accountable.”
One of the signs at the protest — held by Hashim Coates, Interim Chair of Colorado Democrats’ African-American Initiative — quoted a 2016 press release from Gardner where the Senator said that Supreme Court Justices should not be nominated during election years.
“’Our next election is too soon and the stakes are too high; the American people deserve a role in this process.’ – Cory Gardner, March 16, 2016,” the sign read.
At a Club 20 event in Grand Junction on Sept. 19, the day after Ginsburg’s death, Gardner declined to say whether he would vote to confirm a new Supreme Court Justice before the election. Instead he said that now was a time for mourning.
“There is time for debate. There is time for politics,” Gardner said at the event. “But the time, for now, is to pray for the family and to make sure that we keep their family in our hearts and prayers as we mourn as a nation.”
But Monday night Gardner announced his decision.
“I have and will continue to support judicial nominees who will protect our Constitution, not legislate from the bench, and uphold the law,” Gardner said in the statement. “Should a qualified nominee who meets this criteria be put forward, I will vote to confirm.”
Coates cited Gardner’s hypocrisy during his time in office as the reason he attended the protest.
“I’m out here today to have conversations with people and make sure they stay focused and educated,” Coates said. “I’m also here today to remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but you can’t spend too much time mourning because of the crisis that this country is in. It sucks that you can’t take the proper time to mourn. That’s specifically the fault of the GOP.”
Monday morning Gardner was hosting a fundraiser at an undisclosed location in Denver featuring U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). Cotton is on a list of potential Supreme Court nominees published by the White House earlier this month and has come under criticism for his stance against Roe v. Wade and an op-ed he wrote for the New York Times disparaging police brutality protests called “Send in the Troops.”
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Gardner’s challenger for his Senate seat, released a statement urging Gardner to not vote on Trump’s nominee.
“The Senate must not confirm a new Supreme Court Justice until after a new President is sworn in next year,” Hickenlooper said in the statement. “Senator Gardner must uphold the commitment he set more than four years ago and allow the President elected in November to make this decision.”
Coates emphasized the importance of the next Supreme Court Justice and urged people to not give up.
“That’s why I’m here. To keep pushing to see some accountability from Cory Gardner,” Coates said. “I just want to continue to motivate people to fight. One thing that Ruth Bader Ginsburg did was fight until her last breath. And that’s the least that we can do. We have to fight until hell freezes over and if we have to we’ll fight on the ice.”
Iman Jodeh, a Democrat running for Colorado House District 41, and Amy Padden, a candidate for Attorney General of Colorado’s 18th Judicial District, were also present at the protest.
Cardboard Cory, a cutout of the Senator made because of Gardner’s aversion to hosting town halls and recently starred in a documentary, was also there — wearing a mask.
One sign quoted Ginsburg’s words to her granddaughter spoken just days before her death, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Another said, “No nomination before inauguration.”
Other signs had images of Ginsburg along with quotes such as, “I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.”
One protester said she brought her daughter to pay respects to Ginsburg because she was a champion of equal rights for women.
Gardner’s office did not return a phone call asking for a response to the protest.