Ben­net must buck Dems on Gor­such

The Denver Post - - OPINION -

Colorado’s se­nior se­na­tor, Demo­crat Michael Ben­net, is blow­ing an im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity to stand up for our state and na­tion in sit­ting on the side­lines while his party fool­ishly seeks to block the path of Den­ver na­tive Neil Gor­such to the high­est court in the land.

In­stead of work­ing all along to stave off his party’s ex­pected ef­fort to block Gor­such, Ben­net kept his si­lence. Now, de­spite Gor­such’s laud­able per­for­mance through­out his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings, the Se­nate’s top Demo­crat, Chuck Schumer of New York, is of­fi­cially call­ing on his fel­low se­na­tors to fil­i­buster.

As we’ve noted sev­eral times in the run-up to Gor­such’s con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings, the 10th Cir­cuit judge posses the fair­ness, in­de­pen­dence and open-mind­ed­ness nec­es­sary to make him a marvelous ad­di­tion to the Supreme Court. Miss­ing the chance to rally be­hind Gor­such — who has been roundly praised here by Democrats and Repub­li­cans alike — al­ready di­min­ishes Ben­net. He can­not re­main silent any longer.

If Ben­net wants to be known for rep­re­sent­ing Colorado, and not rest­ing on his East Coast elit­ist pedi­gree, he should demon­strate the same kind of au­ton­omy and courage Gor­such al­ready has ex­hib­ited.

When Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump went on a Twit­ter tem­per tantrum against the fed­eral judge who blocked his first Mus­lim ban, Gor­such called the tirade “de­mor­al­iz­ing” and “dis­heart­en­ing.”

While the com­ments were made in pri­vate, when asked about them dur­ing his con­fir­ma­tion tes­ti­mony this week, Gor­such re­sponded: “When any­one crit­i­cizes the hon­esty or the in­tegrity or the mo­ti­va­tions of a fed­eral judge, I find that dis­heart­en­ing. I find that de­mor­al­iz­ing, be­cause I know the truth.”

When asked dur­ing his tes­ti­mony whether Trump ques­tioned him prior to his nom­i­na­tion about Roe vs. Wade, Gor­such an­swered: “I would have walked out the door.”

Yes, se­na­tors of­ten must be nu­anced and diplo­matic in their ap­proach to pub­lic pol­icy. And we’ve been pleased with Ben­net’s abil­ity to re­main level-headed and thought­ful in nav­i­gat­ing the cor­ri­dors of power over the years. We’ve en­dorsed him through­out his Se­nate ca­reer.

Ben­net’s kind words when he in­tro­duced the 10th Cir­cuit Court judge to the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee were a good start. He said Gor­such was “a son of Colorado, born and raised in Den­ver with a dis­tin­guished record of pub­lic ser­vice, pri­vate prac­tice, and out­stand­ing in­tegrity and in­tel­lect.”

But we sim­ply have been left to shake our heads in dis­may at Ben­net’s ret­i­cence to buck Demo­cratic lead­er­ship op­posed to this con­fir­ma­tion. Ben­net, af­ter all, holds le­git­i­mate claim to a spe­cial place in the hearts of many of his col­leagues. As a former leader of the Demo­cratic Sen­a­to­rial Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, Ben­net helped swell their cam­paign cof­fers and be­came an Obama con­fi­dant.

We get it that Democrats take jus­ti­fi­able um­brage at Repub­li­cans’ shame­less de­ci­sion to leave Obama’s nom­i­na­tion to fill the va­cancy. Mer­rick Gar­land was a fine choice for the high court, and one we sup­ported.

Amer­i­cans will re­mem­ber such bull-head­ed­ness. Democrats now have the chance to show what states­man­ship looks like in con­firm­ing Gor­such. This is an op­por­tu­nity for Democrats to re­mind the na­tion what lead­er­ship looks like in con­trast to Trump’s wreck­ing-ball ap­proach to the pres­i­dency.

Call­ing for a fil­i­buster likely will lead to the Repub­li­can de­ci­sion to de­ploy the so-called nu­clear op­tion that would ease con­fir­ma­tion rules and sub­ject fu­ture high court con­fir­ma­tions to the kind of par­ti­san pol­i­tics that di­vide us.

Ben­net has the chance to help the na­tion avoid that dan­ger­ous path. He needs to take it and show Democrats the way for­ward — or stay in Wash­ing­ton, where his real in­ter­ests ap­pear to be.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.