Crowd outside Gardner’s Denver office demands Supreme Court seat be left open

Senator releases statement late Monday in support of advancing nominee

By: - September 21, 2020 6:37 pm

A crowd of about 50 people gathered outside U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s office in downtown Denver on Monday to demand the Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg remain open at least until after the Nov. 3 presidential election. (Moe Clark, Colorado Newsline)

A crowd of about 50 people on Monday gathered outside Sen. Cory Gardner’s office in downtown Denver to demand a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court remain open until after the Nov. 3 presidential election or inauguration in January.

The vacancy was created by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday. Ginsburg, who served in the United States’ highest court for 27 years, died in her Washington D.C. home from complications related to pancreatic cancer. She was 87.

Within hours of Ginsburg’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed Republicans will vote to fill the Supreme Court vacancy but didn’t specify when. On Monday, President Donald Trump said he would announce his nomination for Ginsburg’s replacement by the end of the week. And late in the day, after the protest at his office, Gardner, a Republican and Colorado’s junior senator, who is campaigning for reelection, announced that he would “vote to confirm” a “qualified” nominee to fill the vacancy during an election year. U.S. Senate members, including Gardner, resumed work in Washington D.C. on Monday.

“When a President exercises constitutional authority to nominate a judge for the Supreme Court vacancy, the Senate must decide how to best fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent,” said Gardner, in a statement. “I have and will continue to support judicial nominees who will protect our Constitution, not legislate from the bench, and uphold the law. Should a qualified nominee who meets this criteria be put forward, I will vote to confirm.”

A crowd of about 50 people gathered outside U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s office in downtown Denver on Monday to demand the Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remain open. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, Republicans, including Gardner, refused to vote on then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, until President Trump took office and named Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

“Republicans were adamant that the American people should have a say, and that no replacement should be nominated or voted on before the next election, or before the next inauguration,” said Kevin Amirehsani, who helped organize the event at Gardner’s office on Monday. 

“Senator Cory Gardner, we are demanding that you and your Republican colleagues stick to your word,” said Amirehsani, who works as a tax policy analyst for Colorado’s state government, according to his Twitter account, but helped organize the event independent of his official role. 

Laura Packard, co-chair of the organization Health Care Voter, listens to speakers  outside U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s office in downtown Denver on Sept. 21, 2020. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

Following the death of Scalia in 2016, Gardner stressed that the election was “too soon” and the stakes were “too high” to vote on the next Supreme Court justice. 

“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,” Gardner said in 2016. “The next president of the United States should have the opportunity to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.”

During a candidate debate on Saturday, hosted by Club 20, Gardner dodged a question about whether he stands by his previous statement in 2016. 

“We need to make sure that we are giving time for personal reflection on this loss of an American icon,” Gardner said during the live forum. “I hope that before the politics begins, there will be plenty of time for that, that we have some time for this country to reflect on the legacy of a great woman who led our nation’s highest court, and the work that she has done for this nation, whether you agree or not.” 

Steve Durgan, who has lived in Denver for more than 30 years, said he attended the event on Monday because of how much is at stake in the 2020 elections. He said that even though he was anticipating Ginsburg’s death, it still hit him like a “brick to the gut.” 

“It’s like more bad news stacked on more bad news,” Durgan said as he stood in the crowd gathered in front of Gardner’s office.

Tay Anderson, Denver Public School Board director, speaks to a crowd outside of Sen. Cory Gardner’s office in downtown Denver on Sept. 21, 2020. The small crowd gathered to demand the Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remain open until after the Nov. 3 presidential election. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

During the event on Monday, speakers criticized Gardner for not hosting a town hall meeting for over two years and for his unwillingness to engage directly with his constituents.

“I have been working on reproductive rights in Colorado for as long as Cory Gardner has been a senator,” said Justine Sandoval, statewide engagement manager for Cobalt, a reproductive rights organization. “And in that time, I’ve spent most of my time chasing him around to hold him accountable. Because what he says and what he does are quite often not the same thing.”

Tay Anderson, a Denver Public School Board director who helped organize Monday’s event, said that he will travel to Washington, D.C., with 30 other Colorado organizers and activists in October to speak with Gardner face to face. 

“We shouldn’t have to travel over 1,000 miles in order to hear anything from our United States senator,” Anderson said. “But if we have to, we will. And so Cory, we will see you in 24 days.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Moe Clark
Moe Clark

Moe Clark is a freelance journalist and former Colorado Newsline reporter who covered criminal justice, housing, homelessness and other social issues.