Neustadter: Cory Gardner should wait to confirm a Supreme Court nominee

Corinne Neustadter

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Recently, we’ve lost one of the most revered feminist icons of the 21st century. A fierce advocate for civil rights and gender equality, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Sept. 18 at the age of 87 after serving 27 years as the second woman to sit on the Supreme Court.

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Her work in fighting for gender equality and civil rights continues to benefit people across the nation and is one of her countless impacts on the nation as it stands today.

The sheer scale of her work has been noted by a myriad of elected officials on both sides of the aisle, yet a Senate resolution to honor her life was recently blocked by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz blocked this previously bipartisan resolution, as it contained so-called “partisan” rhetoric relating to the posthumous wishes of Ginsburg.

Specifically, it contained Ginsburg’s dying wish that she not be replaced until the new president is elected in November, Ginsburg’s granddaughter said. 

Colorado’s own Sen. Cory Gardner should wait to vote on confirming a Supreme Court nominee. Voting now might lose him a lot of voters he claims to represent, including left-leaning college students voting for the first time this year.

As my fellow opinion columnist Mason Holitza warned last week, “There is very little standing in the way of a right-wing majority in the Supreme Court.” In the week since her passing, members of the Republican Party have been desecrating Ginsburg’s dying wish in their fervent push to fill her seat before Nov. 3.

However, vulnerable Republican senators could be more open to voting against a nominee to bolster their voting records and build their withering voter support.

Recent polls reveal that a lot of Americans want the winner of the 2020 presidential election to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, flying in the face of the rhetoric employed by Mitch McConnell in 2016, emphasizing that we should “give the people a voice” upon stonewalling former President Barack Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins, in the middle of a difficult reelection, has announced she believes the president-elect should decide who the Supreme Court nominee will be and does not believe the Senate should vote on the matter before then. Collins’ support is noticeably lagging in Maine, with her Democratic challenger ahead in recent polls by as much as 12 points.

“If Gardner intends to keep his Senate seat, he needs to recognize that every political calculation he makes in the next six weeks will have a direct bearing on his chances of reelection.”

Notably, Gardner may vote to confirm a nominee prior to Nov. 3. Given that his reelection campaign has gone from a “toss up” to a “lean Democrat” by the Cook Political Report, Gardner’s political future could be in jeopardy come November.

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Though praised for passing bipartisan conservation legislation this past summer, Gardner’s approval ratings are low, with only 38% average approval since 2015.

If Gardner intends to keep his Senate seat, he needs to recognize that every political calculation he makes in the next six weeks will have a direct bearing on his chances of reelection.

His choice to vote on a senate confirmation before the election is a disservice to Ginsburg’s dying wish as well as his constituents — many of whom already disapproved of him prior to that announcement.

If Gardner decides to confirm, it would emphasize a blind ignorance to the evolving demographics of Colorado. His victory in 2014 was the first time in 36 years a challenger upset an incumbent senator and helped the Republican Party regain control of the Senate.

In years since, however, Gardner has not lived up to being “a new kind of Republican” — a middle of the road moderate willing to work with Democrats.

According to FiveThirtyEight, Gardner has voted in line with President Donald Trump’s policies 89.1% of the time — a shockingly high number for a supposedly moderate senator in a historic swing state. According to The Colorado Sun, “Cory Gardner has voted to confirm 98% of Trump’s judicial nominees,” only voting against four out of 214 total federal nominees.

Moreover, ProPublica reports that Gardner has only voted against his party 3.5% of the time in the five years he’s served in the U.S. Senate. Gardner has continually put his political affiliations above the wishes of his constituents and does not seem to recognize the gravity of his decision to bypass Ginsburg’s dying wish.

As Vox reports, “Colorado used to be solidly Republican, but an influx of young, liberal voters has turned the state blue.” These voters will likely not look kindly on Gardner’s inability to look past his party, which will not be helped by the ignorance of voter opinions on the replacement of one of the most iconic women, let alone justices, of the 21st century.

Voting to wait to confirm a SCOTUS nominee will not undo the years of policymaking and broken promises Gardner hasn’t delivered on. It would, however, give him the chance to show voters that he has the ability to put partisanship aside in favor of the greater good. 

As Ginsburg said, “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.” Every senator, including Gardner, should want their work to inspire greatness.

Corinne Neustadter can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @cneustad