Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) expressed his support for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, who has a history of opposing gun rights as a federal judge.
Bennet praised D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Justice Garland as having an "excellent reputation."
"I worked for and with him at the Justice Department and have a firsthand appreciation for his extraordinary legal skill and respect for the law," Bennet said in a statement Wednesday.
Bennet sided with Democrats in backing Garland, who Republicans have vowed not to consider in the election year.
"The President has fulfilled his constitutional obligation by selecting a nominee to fill the vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court," Bennet said. "Now, it is the Senate's constitutional responsibility to thoroughly vet Judge Garland through meetings, hearings, and a vote to confirm or deny his nomination. It is what Presidents and the Senate have done throughout our history."
Garland’s votes on the bench have been described as "hostile to gun rights." As a federal judge, Garland voted several times against gun rights, including a vote to undo the landmark Second Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller.
Republicans in the state expressed opposition to Garland, whose record includes decisions favorable to unions, and who also volunteered for numerous Democratic presidential candidates, including Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and Bill Clinton, in the past.
Senator Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) said the 2016 presidential election is too soon to consider a lifetime appointee.
"We stand at a pivotal point in our nation’s history," Gardner said. "The Obama Administration continues to use the judicial and regulatory systems to push through its legislative agenda, shifting the balance of power that our Founders established."
"That is why the next president of the United States should have the opportunity to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court," he said. "In 1992, even then-Senator Joe Biden stated the Senate should not hold confirmation hearings for a Supreme Court nominee until after that year’s presidential election.
"Our next election is too soon and the stakes are too high," Gardner added. "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."
Republican senatorial candidate and combat veteran Jon Keyser also opposed Garland’s nomination, blasting Bennet for his support.
"It’s despicable that President Obama has used the death of Justice Scalia as a partisan political opportunity since the day that he died," Keyser said. "Senator Bennet should join with Americans across our country and support efforts to have our next President nominate Justice Scalia’s replacement to the Supreme Court."
"The American People deserve to have a say in the choice of our next Supreme Court Justice and that’s why I’ve insisted that the next President should be the one to nominate Justice Scalia’s replacement," he said. "As Colorado’s next United States Senator, I will only vote for a Supreme Court Justice who is loyal to our Constitution and who won’t legislate from the bench."