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WATCHING THE WORLD OF REGIONAL AND STATE POLITICS  — news@AuroraSentinel.com @AuroraPols on Twitter


Four years later, we’re still arguing whether some vestige of southern segregation has a place here in Colorado and America.

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the case of whether the religious rights of a Lakewood wedding cake decorator allows him to refuse service to gay customers.

No, is the short answer to a longstanding problem in America.

By refusing to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling, the state’s high court in effect reinforces past rulings that ensure public businesses cannot cite religious beliefs to justify discrimination.

Every time I see historical photos of “whites only” signs in southern shops, restaurants or at water fountains, I marvel at what could possess someone to justify and defend bigotry.

I can remember hugely passionate speeches from the 1960s where Alabama Gov. George Wallace and others argued that it was God’s will the races be separated. He and others invoked previous U.S. Supreme Court rulings upholding segregation and bigotry. Among them was the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson, a case trying to resolve whether blacks could be refused business and government services and treated lesser than whites.

“The object of the [Fourteenth] amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to endorse social, as distinguished from political, equality. . . If one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane.”

And that is where the mystery of this problem begins and ends. Ruling whites had learned and believed that black Americans were somehow inferior to whites, justifying segregation.

And here we are again. Instead of hanging “No Negroes” signs, businesses like the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood want to be able to cite their religion as justification for putting “No Gays” placards on the door. Actually, owner Jack Phillips has said he doesn’t want to do anything so offensive as advertise his bigotry on the front door of his business. He prefers to keep his discrimination quiet and private, seeing how it’s just among him and his god and the two men he refused to make a wedding cake for in 2012, because the Bible tells him so.

But his religion makes clear to him is that homosexuals are inferior to heterosexuals as judged by society, the law, his peers and his maker. It’s no different than the 20th Century U.S. Supreme Court — and for generations after all over The South — ruling that their beliefs justified seeing blacks as inferior to whites, and that the government was righteous in segregating them.

I’ve never been able to understand how Judeo-Christian types decide which parts of the Bible to take seriously, metaphorically, historically or with a pillar of salt. I’ll stipulate that the Good Book has advice on homosexuality, but as many enjoy pointing out, the Bible insists on killing, maiming or snubbing people for things like sassing the husband, talking crap to your mom and dad, adultery and accommodating those with flat noses.

Those age-old “Bible-says” arguments were settled by federal courts and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court long ago. Why can’t we get over it?

In a spate of rulings, such as Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, Atlanta Motel Inc. v. U.S. and Katzenbach v. McClung, and Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court has been consistent in ruling that there are no reasons public entities and public businesses can discriminate. None.

Hats off to the Colorado American Civil Liberties Union for fighting off the newest attempt to wrap religion around bigotry.

Of course you can believe anything you damn well please. Those who think a blasphemous state supreme court has tromped all over the First Amendment refuse to understand that you have the freedom to practice any religion that suits your fancy, as long as you’re not fancying imposing your view on others, usurping their rights, or outright directly abusing someone. That’s the kind of thing that sets us apart from places where Sharia Law calls for stoning to death mouthy daughters and men who have a thing for other men.

Critics of the entire lawsuit say the ruling should go the other way because these two gay men could easily have found someone else to make a cake to celebrate their same-sex nuptials. That would mean that we should allow businesses to go back to hanging up “Whites Only” signs on businesses, as long as blacks and other minorities have other options at hand.

No. Those of us who know just how seriously wrong that is must help those who don’t understand that homosexual Americans are not inferior to heterosexuals, the same way America helped The South move beyond it. But until everyone in America gets it, we have to have laws and court rulings to fill in the gap. And here in Colorado, that’s what we’ve done.

From Monday’s Associated Press

Colorado court: ruling stands that baker can’t cite religion

DONNA BRYSON, Associated Press

DENVER | The Colorado Supreme Court refused Monday to take up the case of a suburban Denver baker who would not make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, letting stand a lower court’s ruling that the Masterpiece Cakeshop owner cannot cite his Christian beliefs in refusing service.

The American Civil Liberties Union applauded the development.

“The highest court in Colorado today affirmed that no one should be turned away from a public-facing business because of who they are or who they love,” Ria Tabacco Mar, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project who argued the case, said in a statement. “We all have a right to our personal beliefs, but we do not have a right to impose those beliefs on others and discriminate against them.”

Tabacco Mar had argued on behalf of Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who had been refused service by baker Jack Phillips.

Attorney Nicolle Martin, who represents Phillips, said they had not yet decided whether to accept the ruling, ask Colorado’s highest court to reconsider, or approach the U.S. Supreme Court. Martin says she is surprised the Colorado court would not consider the case.

“This is a matter that affects all Americans, not just people of faith,” Martin said.

Phillips declined to make a cake in 2012 for Craig and Mullins, who were married in Massachusetts and planned a celebration in Colorado. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which ruled in December 2013 that Phillips discriminated against them and ordered him to change his store policy against making cakes for gay weddings or face fines. The Colorado Court of Appeals also ruled against him.

Phillips, who referred questions from The Associated Press to his lawyer on Monday, has said he has no problem serving gay people at his store, but that making a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding would violate his Christian beliefs.

Such issues have been considered by courts and legislators across the country. A new North Carolina law prevents local and state government from mandating protections for LGBT people in the private sector or at stores and restaurants. The law suffered a blow when a federal appeals court issued an opinion that threatens part of the law requiring students to use bathrooms in line with their gender at birth in public schools and universities.

Colorado lawmakers introduced a bill in February that would have blocked the state from taking any action that may burden a person’s religious freedom unless it was the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest. A House committee indefinitely postponed discussion on the bill.

Critics say the legislation that has been proposed in states across the country to protect those who — due to religious beliefs — decline to employ or serve certain people are aimed at the LGBT community and are discriminatory.

Sure they can.

Aurora Dem and former state House hopeful Nancy Cronk took to Facebook this week to ensure rules are followed and rat out right-wing gunners trying to jimmy the system at a local Department of Motor Vehicle office. Her son went there to do driver-license stuff and noticed that outside the office was a table set up with volunteers, collecting signatures for those who want to see a pro-gun-rights initiative make it to the statewide ballot.

Nancy clearly would not.

The volunteers ask folks if they want to sign, and if the answer is “yes,” they give up the John Hancock right there. And if they’re not registered voters, a requirement to sign a ballot petition — well, how convenient. Just step that way, register to vote, come on back and sign.

If they have no interest in signing the petition, or get squinty about Colorado already having way too many guns and gunners, well, see ya.

Legal?

Sure, according to election officials. Nothing in state or local laws precludes petition gatherers from using busy public property for such a thing, and props to someone clever enough to know that county DMV and clerk’s offices can register the willing but unable.

You don’t even have to ask, said Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Matt Crane. “You can just set up shop.”

Anybody can, he said. Gun rights activists, anti-frackers, potential political candidates, bleeding hearts and conservative curmudgeons alike.

One complaint about these petition gatherers focuses on whether they were asking people if they were Republicans.

“I don’t think there’s anything illegal about it,” he said, although he questioned the wisdom, diplomacy and ethics of asking people their political persuasion, potentially putting off a potential signer.

As to the image of the Arapahoe County Sheriff at the DMV, it’s a poster of Sheriff Dave Walcher sporting the county’s snazzy new black uniforms, which have replaced the deputy blues they’ve worn for decades. It’s part of a campaign to educate residents about what the county cops now look like. Walcher’s term doesn’t come up until 2018, and he hasn’t said publicly whether he’s running for re-election.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Dave Walcher

As to creepily watching stuff, well, they do that for a living.

Here’s the Facebook post:

My son went to the Arapahoe County DMV to renew his driver’s license. On the premises was a table and a volunteer who asked him if he wanted to sign a pro-gun rights petition. (A friend also told me they have a similar table at the County Clerk and Recorder’s office, inside the building, on County premises). When someone answers yes, they are directed to a table where they are given the opportunity to register to vote, if they are not already registered. If they say no, they are not.

Is this legal? Would the Republican Secretary of State do anything about it? Would the Republican Clerk and Recorder in Araphaoe County do anything about it if it were illegal? Also doubtful.

As if that weren’t enough, a few feet away is a lifesize, labeled photo cutout of the Sheriff (R) who is running for re-election. The photo does not reference voting — it just appears to be monitoring the area in a creepy way. Welcome to Arapahoe County CO, folks.

Sometimes I get confused whether I’m asleep and dreaming or awake and hallucinating. Not that it’s an advancing middle age kind of thing, it’s the weirdest damned presidential political cycle I’ve ever seen in my increasingly long lifetime.

I was there in front of the TV for Nixon’s famous “Checkers Speech,” although I really only remember duck-and-cover scares and the assassination.

But I don’t ever remember anything like this cycle’s election. Late on Tuesday, I realized this:

The wife of the Democratic president who was famous for not having sex with that woman — not that woman, the other woman, only he did  — finally beat the elderly socialist enough to make it look like she’s going win like we all thought she would win. So now, it looks pretty certain that she’s  running against the billionaire Republican fascist who used his reality TV-star persona to snatch the GOP nomination from the religious extremist, Canadian-born Cuban senator from Texas, who’s the most hated man in congress and suspected in Florida of being the Zodiac Killer.

And here in Colorado? Republicans vastly preferred the Lone Star Canadian Zodiac Killer’s Sharia Law proposal over the orange fascist’s final solution for Mexicans and Muslims. Supporters of Sen. Smug have been gloating over how stupid billionaire Trumpah Lumpah and his gang is because they didn’t know GOP presidential caucus rules for this state and that party during this cycle allow the sneakiest candidate to steal all the candidates while the looooooserrrrr watches.

Colorado Democrats leaned toward drinking up Grampa’s Commie-Lite Kool-Aid punch, and not so much for the woman candidate that women don’t like. And now, everybody says they’re a winner and pretty much assured a White House victory.

Wake me up when it’s really all over.

COLORADO SPRINGS | Sen. Ted Cruz continued his Colorado winning streak Friday, locking up the support of 21 total delegates to the Republican National Convention, representing a majority of the delegates Colorado will send to Cleveland in July.

Slates loyal to Cruz won every assembly in Colorado’s seven congressional districts, which began April 2 and culminated Friday with 12 delegates selected. The Texas senator is well-positioned to pad his total Saturday, when 13 more delegates will be chosen at Colorado Republicans’ state convention.

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks to Jewish community leaders at the Jewish Center of Brighton Beach during a campaign event, Thursday, April 7, 2016, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)Of Cruz’s delegates, only 17 were formally pledged to him, and in theory the other four could change their vote in Cleveland. But they were all included on the senator’s slates and are largely state party officials who said they were barred from signing a formal pledge for Cruz but have promised to back him in balloting at the convention.

The result shows how Cruz’s superior organization has helped him as he tries to catch up with front-runner Donald Trump. While Cruz’s campaign spent months recruiting slates of delegates and securing pledges, Trump only this week hired a Colorado state director. Two candidates Trump’s campaign told backers to support in one district were not even on the ballot.

The Trump campaign said it wasn’t worried and had always expected to fare poorly in Colorado because its assembly process is dominated by party insiders. “If we had a primary, yes, we would have done very well here,” said Trump senior adviser Alan Cobb.

Cruz also appeals to Colorado Republican activists who dominate party functions — a deeply conservative, religious crowd with a libertarian streak.

“Coloradans, naturally having that pioneer spirit, gravitate toward someone like Cruz,” said State Rep. Justin Everett, one of Cruz’s pledged delegates.

AURORA | Less than a week after submitting her petition signatures for the House District 42 race, Democratic hopeful Naquetta Ricks has suffered a big obstacle toward making the November general election.

Naquetta RicksIn a Thursday, April 7, announcement, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office said they have notified the Aurora Democrat that the petition she submitted Monday, April 4, for the Democratic primary was invalid due to how the signatures were gathered.

Ricks has five days to appeal the invalidation. Ricks’ other option would be to file a write-in affidavit no later than April 22.

Eric Nelson and Dominique Jackson already qualified for the June 28 primary ballot after each receiving at least 30 percent of delegate votes at an Arapahoe County Democratic caucus held earlier this year.

The Secretary of State’s office is currently checking signatures for another 17 candidates from across the state. Two candidates — Republicans Bob Gardner and Larry Liston of El Paso County — have already had their signatures approved. Secretary of State’s office spokeswoman Lynn Bartels says the office aims to finish checking petition signatures by April 22, a week ahead of the setting of primary ballots.

AURORA | Naquetta Ricks submitted her petition signatures Monday, April 4, for a spot on the ballot in the Democratic primary for State House District 42, likely turning the nomination battle into a three-way race.

Ricks submitted the required 650 signatures from registered voters in House District 42, which covers much of central Aurora, according to a statement issued by the Secretary of State’s Office. The number of required signatures is determined by voter turnout in past elections for HD42.

Ricks joins APS Board Director Eric Nelson and Dominique “Nikki” Jackson as Democratic candidates seeking the seat due to be vacated by Rep. Rhonda Fields, who is running for state Senate. Nelson and Jackson have already solidified spots on the June 28 primary ballot after each securing the required 30 percent of delegate votes cast in the caucus process earlier this year.

Ricks entered the race in December and had her signature collection format approved by the Secretary of State’s Office Jan. 26. Candidates were allowed to begin collecting signatures Feb. 1.

Monday was the final day candidates were able to submit their signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. The signatures will be verified in the coming weeks.

And from today’s “no-limits” political saga, a shot rang out across the Colorado Twitterverse when GOP state Sen. Tim “Dead Eye” Neville tweeted a picture of himself, gun in hand — safety off his sense of judgment — looking like an NRA poster boy for everything that scares the crap out of middle and left America.

Today’s controversy is part of the Republican drive to push Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet out the door on Election Day this fall. Neville is part of a large pack of Republicans running to be the one to take on Bennet after a June primary election.

Dave PerryIn the picture, Neville is sporting a sporting grin, a jacket emblazoned with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners — a group so unnerving even the NRA disavows them — a Trump-like hat that says, “American Patriot,” and he’s holding what looks to be an AR-15 with what a good friend calls “some sexy tactical furniture.”

The picture appears to be taken at a firing range, or possibly the family Tin Foil Hat Hotel and Bunker in his Jeffco basement. He looks to have fired a couple dozen rounds into a copy of an editorial by the Colorado Springs Gazette he didn’t like. Mind you, the legal limit for newly purchased magazines in Colorado is 15 rounds, but who’s counting? Not TimmyBadger.

The Sunday editorial is a warning to Republicans to vote for just about any GOP U.S. Senate hopeful other than Neville, because of his politically dangerous stance on guns and association with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

Unlike Neville, who had a few shots wander way off to the right, and who knows how many out into the parking lot, the Gazette didn’t miss their target. Saying that Bennet is extremely vulnerable and that just about any of the more popular GOP candidates should be able to take him out, so to speak.

“Neville’s potential nomination poses Bennet’s best hope,” The Gazette wrote.

Ouch and ouch. The editorial pretty much says the paper was inspired and obligated to take aim at Neville because he’s a straw-poll favorite to make the ballot at a statewide confab this weekend. They clearly had no idea that Neville would lock, load and fire back.

Tim Neville TweetPainful to Neville is a famously conservative newspaper saying he’s just too extreme for their tastes. Mind you, this is a town that has happily produced the likes of Douglas Bruce, Doug Lamborn and Colorado’s infamous bible-thumping, gay-hating, liberal-lashing YouTube preacher-cum-lawmaker Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt.

According to the op-ed deciders at the Gazette, Neville doesn’t fit the bill.

So aiming for the editorial but apparently hitting his own foot, Neville fired away with the camera snapping, thinking this was as good or better an idea than all of the gun giveaways he’s been doing as part of his election campaign.

I would say, no. The tweet plays like a political ad paid for the committees to elect Michael Bennet and erstwhile GOP establishment favorite, Jon Keyser.

A few months ago, we were all cautioning the country’s political hopefuls to “stay classy.” Now, we’re hoping that they stay sane, or something close to it.

Shooting at unflattering newspaper editorials while dressed like the Ducks of Hazzard and showing folks what a marginal shooter he is does not inspire confidence in his judgment nor his prowess. No need to write a letter to the editor, make him or her realize bad things can happen when you take on the TimmyBadger.

Think pathetically creepy yet comically menacing. The only disappointment was that he didn’t take the shot as a selfie, making me worry that someone else also thought this was a good idea.

Pretty easy to see for yourself, it was not.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

You’re probably going remember Robert Blaha when this is all over.

Whether you vote for the Colorado Springs businessman to win the crowded June primary race to be the GOP candidate to take on Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet, he’ll make an impression.

Dave PerryBlaha is one of a least a dozen Republican candidates certain they can win back the Senate seat from Bennet this November. He and three other candidates — John Keyser, Jack Graham and former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier — each decided to spend the $25,000 or so it takes to get the 10,500 signatures needed to bypass the messy state convention this weekend.

In a field so crowded that just half of them is too many to keep track of, it’s hard to set yourself apart from the conservative herd.

If you’re from Colorado Springs, like Blaha, you may remember him from a couple of years ago when he ran an unsuccessful campaign to supplant Doug Lamborn as CD5’s congressman.

Otherwise, Blaha could be as unique as the college athletic director who wants to be senator. Or one of the county commissioners. Or one of the state lawmakers. Or a city councilman, businessman, political junkie and on and on.

Blaha set himself apart early on this year when he launched his campaign with a video taking shots at Bennet as an accomplice to Obamacare. The spot dark-comically depicted Obamacare as a prostate exam and threw serious shades of an age-old sexual fetish that makes most folks cringe. And there were some bobbleheads.

Totally got my attention. Since then, Blaha — a human resources consultant and motivational speaker — has been toting bobblehead dolls of Bennet around the state and taking cheeky shots to post on his Twitter account. A recent one has the doll in front of a Phillips County sign and says, “No, Michael, this isn’t where they make the screwdrivers…”

Robert Blaha
Robert Blaha

The bobblehead has become a centerpiece in his campaign that, like all of the other Republicans in the race, is all about pushing against Bennet and not each other.

In the four or five forums I’ve seen so far, every candidate agrees that 1. Obamacare must go. 2. Gitmo must stay 3. Bennet has never done anything right. 4. Any gun control law is a bad gun control law. 5. Hillary Clinton is the worst thing since Barack Obama. 6. Repeat. 7. Repeat again.

Since the litmus paper comes out of their mouths with almost the exact same color, the herd is looking for ways to persuade voters they’re all as different as they appear to each other. It’s not easy so far, in part because — unlike the woolly herd of GOP presidential candidates that just can’t say enough bad about each other, each other’s spouses, bathroom habits, genitals, intelligence, mental illness and other pertinent presidential issues — these candidates stampede all over each other to say pretty much the same thing and never, ever, ever anything remotely bad about each other.

Well, sort of. Blaha stopped by the newsroom Friday for some spirited discourse with the shamelessly liberal editor of this editorially liberal news unit.

He said right off he’s working to keep the campaign civil in light of so much nasty politics these days that is anything but civil. He said he’s different than the rest of the herd because he says it’s fruitless and just wrongheaded to vilify political opponents. Instead, he says he wants to listen hard and maybe learn something new.

“Just about every middle-ground voter in the state will be happy to hear that,” I told him. And when I pressed him to recall something he’s learned from liberals that changed his mind, or something he would laud Bennet for, he said, yep, that’s exactly what he’s talking about.

But after a lot more prodding, I don’t recall anything resembling something specific. He said his adult daughters do have strong opinions about the gender pay disparity issue, but I never heard any support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act or anything like that.

He went so far as to say that he doesn’t allow his elbowing GOP brethren and one sisteren — El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton — to just say they want to a) close the EPA b) close the Department of Education c) close Gitmo d) close Obamacare and make that their policy statement, he says he’s forcing them to say, “how.”

“You have to tell voters how you’ll make it happen,” he said.

But when I pressed him to say how he would handle a) closing the EPA b) closing Gitmo c) closing Obamacare et al, I got pretty unspecific specifics. There would be lots of study and attention to attrition at the EPA. Gitmo would pretty much stay the same and Obamacare would be replaced by a competitive insurance marketplace that would allow for interstate portability, except it wouldn’t if a deregulated, free-market insurance company didn’t want to sell in a state you’re moving to.

What I didn’t hear was a dogmatic reaction saying Democrats and all they’ve done was stupid, it was just wrong. The U.S. Senate is filled with honorables from both sides of the aisle readily accusing their opponents of being wrong and stupid.

Neither Blaha nor any of the Colorado GOP gang has so far attached themselves to a policy or a position that sounds any different than anything GOP leaders in the Senate have been trumpeting loudly. That was until Trump started trumpeting some of that stuff, too.

Despite an essentially cloned list of policy positions, Blaha says he can make a difference where the others can’t because it’s his family’s motto — one daughter even has it as a tattoo — and he means it. He doesn’t want to say he’d exactly compromise with Democrats in Washington, D.C. He acknowledges that in a world where the tea party base of the GOP has pushed Trump to where he is right now because he noisily says he will refuse to compromise, suggesting such a thing in a primary battle seeking to court those voters isn’t workable even in Colorado. Maybe especially in Colorado. So instead, he says that he’ll listen to the Democrats and then be so persuasive that his ideas on forcing local police to be the first line of defense against illegal immigrants, fighting against gun control and supporting limits to or ending abortion rights will compel the political opposition to climb on board.

His enthusiasm and passion for meaning it is compelling for sure. But his argument? We’ll see.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com. Follow the Colorado U.S Senate race on Twitter @AuroraPols through Election Day.

DENVER | Jack Graham, the former athletic director at Colorado State University and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, submitted his petitioned signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office Monday, March 28, making him the first candidate to move toward securing a spot on the June primary ballot.

Graham, who declared his candidacy Feb. 16, joins more than a dozen other Republicans vying to dethrone incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet this November.

Jack Graham, 2016 senate candidate
Jack Graham, 2016 senate candidate

“I am grateful for the support that thousands of Republicans from across Colorado showed for my candidacy for the U.S. Senate,” Graham said in a statement. “I am particularly thankful to all of the volunteers who stepped forward to circulate petitions on my behalf — the grassroots support is very encouraging to us.”

Candidates for U.S. Senate aiming to earn a spot on the June 28 primary ballot by petition are required to collect signatures from 1,500 registered Republicans in each of the state’s seven congressional districts. The Secretary of State’s submission deadline for petitions is April 4.

Candidates Robert Blaha, Jon Keyser, Donald Rosier and Ryan Frazier have also had their petition formats approved and have been collecting signatures since the petition period began Feb. 1, according to a blog post on the Secretary of State’s website.

Other than collecting signatures, the only other way a candidate can earn a spot on the primary ballot is by receiving at least 30 percent of the delegate votes cast at a party assembly. The Colorado Republican Committee convention is slated to take place April 9 in Colorado Springs.

AURORA | President Barack Obama’s nomination of a judge to take the late Antonin Scalia’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court only provided state politicians the opportunity to double down on their previously stated opinions.

FILE - In this May 1, 2008, file photo, Judge Merrick B. Garland is seen at the federal courthouse in Washington. President Obama is expected to nominate Federal Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)At issue is whether the U.S. Senate should even entertain hearings for D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland, who was named by President Obama on March 15. Multiple current Republican congressmen and GOP candidates across Colorado have joined together in recent weeks to say that any action on filling the vacancy on the high court’s bench should wait until the next president is in office.

Former state Rep. Jon Keyser, among more than a dozen candidates for U.S. Senate in 2016, went as far as to say “it’s despicable that President Obama … used the death of Justice Scalia as a partisan political opportunity” before calling on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bennet to join the chorus of GOP senators who want “to have our next president nominate Justice Scalia’s replacement to the Supreme Court.”

Most Colorado Democrats have roundly rejected that call, lambasting Republicans for their insistence that the Senate refuse to consider Garland’s nomination.

“There is no question that Chief Judge Merrick Garland deserves a hearing as the President’s Supreme Court nominee,” said Colorado Democratic Party communications advisor Andrew Zucker in a statement. “He has already been confirmed by the Senate before, and received praise from conservative Republicans as a ‘consensus nominee,’ but virtually all of Colorado’s 13 Republican Senate candidates support Republicans in Washington refusing to do their jobs and even considering Judge Garland, as the constitution lays out.”

Zucker pointed to an OnSight/Keating Research poll of Colorado voters taken Feb. 26 to 29 that found 52 percent of respondents — including 59 percent of independents — believed the vacancy should be filled before the presidential election in November. About 67 percent of Republicans polled said they think filling the vacancy should wait until after the next president takes office.

As for Colorado’s two sitting U.S. senators, the debate is just as divided.

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner invoked the so-called “Biden Rule” in a March 16 statement, noting that election-year nominations should wait.

“Our next election is too soon and the stakes are too high,” Gardner said in the statement. “The American people deserve a role in this process as the new Supreme Court justice will influence the direction of this country for years to come.”

But Sen. Bennet pointed to the language of the U.S. Constitution in declaring that he and his fellow senators had an obligation to consider the nomination of Garland.

“This is no time to edit or ‘redline’ the Constitution in favor of some new so-called ‘standard practice,'” Bennet shared in a March 17 statement. “Senators should meet with Judge Garland as I plan to do, and the Senate should hold hearings and an up-or-down vote on his nomination.”