WASHINGTON, D.C. — Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet spoke on Wednesday on the Senate floor to discourage his colleagues from changing the senate rules on filibusters of Supreme Court nominees.
The senate is considering the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Many senate Democrats are expected to filibuster the nomination on Thursday. In response, senate Republicans are threatening to use the “nuclear option,” which would eliminate the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees and allow them to confirm Judge Gorsuch with the narrowest partisan majority.
“This is precisely the outcome our Founders feared, when lifetime appointments to our highest court, which touches every aspect of American life, become just another partisan exercise. We must not go down this road,” Bennet said in his remarks.
Drawing on historic examples, he argued that the founders designed the Senate to build consensus between the parties. He urged colleagues to consider the ramifications of a rules change.
“This president may have several more opportunities to nominate a Supreme Court Justice during his term,” he said. “If that happens, Republicans would face enormous pressure to nominate an extreme candidate, knowing they could confirm them without a single Democratic vote.”
Bennet warned that losing the ability to filibuster could eliminate an important tool the Senate has to hold the Executive Branch accountable and could lead to the nomination of more extreme judges in the future.
“If we go down this road, we will undermine the minority’s ability to check this Administration – and all those to follow,” he said. “The country needs an empowered Senate minority right now more than ever. And more than that, the country needs a Senate that can forge consensus about our future, rather than carrying on the bitter divisions of the past.”
Bennet has worked with Republican and Democratic colleagues for weeks to avoid the nuclear option. He has said if the Republicans decide to change the senate rules, it will affect his final vote on the nominee.