In the wake of the death of former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Democrats are changing their stances on filling a vacancy on the bench during an election year. In Colorado’s battleground Senate contest, former Governor John Hickenlooper (D) reversed his stance from just four years prior. Hickenlooper hopes to unseat incumbent GOP Sen. Cory Gardner in one of November’s most competitive elections.
In 2016, the White House was controlled by Democrats, while voters elected a GOP majority to the Senate during the 2014 midterm elections as a referendum on the Obama administration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell famously declined to hold hearings for former President Obama’s final nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
At the time, Democrats were outraged at McConnell’s bold move, which would later prove to be a brilliant political strategy. Hickenlooper joined Democrats in advocating for hearings for Garland, citing the Senate's "constitutional responsibilities."
Just four years later, Hickenlooper takes the opposite stance on the Senate’s role of confirming a nominee to the Supreme Court, while unified government is in place.
The Senate must not confirm a new Supreme Court Justice until after a new President is sworn in next year. Senator Gardner must uphold the commitment he set more than four years ago and allow the President elected in November to make this decision.— John Hickenlooper (@Hickenlooper) September 19, 2020
Hickenlooper, along with Colorado’s other incumbent Senator and former presidential candidate Michael Bennet (D), piled onto the Democrat-led push to rewrite the history of the circumstances of 2016.
There are 42 days until the election. The Senate has never confirmed a Supreme Court nominee this close to a presidential election.— Michael Bennet (@SenatorBennet) September 22, 2020
The next president should choose the next Supreme Court Justice. https://t.co/PIe00wZY40
"Our next election is too soon and the stakes are too high. The American people deserve a role in this process as the next Supreme Court Justice will influence the direction of this country for years to come."— John Hickenlooper (@Hickenlooper) September 20, 2020
-Sen. Cory Gardner, 4 years ago
Let's not let him forget it.
Fresh off of an ethics-related scandal, Hickenlooper claims that Sen. Gardner is guilty of hypocrisy after the incumbent announced that he would support holding hearings for President Trump's eventual nominee, later this year. Democrats who are doing a complete 180-degree spin on this issue are the real hypocrites, as the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) pointed out:
"Make no mistake, Senator Cory Gardner has spent his entire term doing exactly what voters elected him to do, and he is continuing that responsibility now," said NRSC spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez. "The only hypocrites on this issue are John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, who have suddenly decided the Senate's constitutional authority – one they once tried to manipulate for their own gain – should no longer apply because they don't like who voters gave that authority to."
Hickenlooper once said that he was “not cut out to be a Senator,” and perhaps he should take his own sentiment to heart.