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Gardner does not answer question on when Senate should hold Supreme Court vote: 'There is time for debate'

The Colorado senator was among Republicans who refused to hold a vote for Obama nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, leading to the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Credit: AP
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., speaks before an appearance by President Donald Trump at a campaign rally Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) avoided answering a question regarding when the Senate should vote to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday evening.

While speaking at a question and answer session hosted by Club 20 in Grand Junction, Gardner was read a previous quote of his regarding the 2016 Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland by President Barack Obama.

Gardner was among Republicans who refused to hold a vote in the Senate on Garland's confirmation, reasoning that the president elected in November 2016 should select the nominee.

After Donald Trump was elected president, Garland's nomination was cast aside, and the Senate instead eventually voted to confirm current Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated by President Trump. 

The debate's mediator asked Gardner the following question after his opening statement:

"Four years ago upon the death of Justice Antonin Scalia you said the following; '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. The next President of the United States should have the opportunity to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.' Do you stand by these words today?"

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"Just in the last 24 hours have we seen this, and I agree with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) who was addressing the country this morning when he said, out of decency and respect for this country, we need to make sure we are giving time for personal reflection on this loss of an American icon." Gardner said.

"I hope before the politics begin, because 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 to our nation's highest court, and the work that she has done for the nation," Gardner continued.

"Whether you agree or not, there is time for debate, there is time for politics," Gardner added. "But the time for now is to pray for the family, and make sure we keep (Ginsburg's) family in our hearts and prayers as we mourn as a nation."

You can watch Gardner's full appearance in the video below:

Club 20 describes itself as a coalition of individuals, businesses, tribes and local governments in Colorado's 22 western counties.

The question and answer session was originally supposed to be a debate, but Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper did not participate.

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