AURORA | The death of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia late Saturday afternoon set off political seismographs across the country and launched a firestorm of perplexing questions, including here in Colorado where Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet’s seat is hotly contested by as many as 13 Republican challengers.
Among the most pressing quandaries: Who could replace him? When might that happen? Will the U.S. Senate — which must confirm any SCOTUS nominees — allow it? How will Scalia’s absence on the bench affect the current docket, which features several prominent cases involving abortion issues and union rights?
And with enough U.S. Senate hopefuls in Colorado’s Republican primary race to field a baseball team — including a designated hitter and a few relief pitchers — there has been no dearth of trumpeting on the matter. Here’s what several Coloradans vying to dethrone incumbent Bennet — and Bennet himself — had to say on Scalia’s death and the issue of nominating the country’s next Supreme Court justice.
Incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet — Allow a nominee:
In a Feb. 13 statement: “I express my deep condolences to the family of Justice Antonin Scalia who served our country on the Supreme Court for nearly 30 years and was the first Italian American to be appointed to the highest court.”
In a Feb. 15 statement: “This is an important responsibility. The Senate should fulfill its Constitutional obligation without letting partisan politics intervene. When the president nominates someone, that person should get a full and fair review.”
Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha — Don’t allow a nominee:
“The outcome of where this goes may well shape American Juris Prudence for decades. This is an absolutely key appointment. (Justice Scalia) was an avid traditionalist that really understood the constitution, he was brilliant, he was one of the top 10 or 15 justices to serve on the Supreme Court, and all the things that have been written about him. But I think to give this president, that is to say President Obama, another appointment would be the worst thing to happen to America possible. I would strongly support a post -election selection.
As a U.S. Senator I would stand firm in the idea that we cannot afford another Obama selection. We need to make this decision post-election and whoever we look at would have to be a constitutional constructionalist, original intent, Scalia-type conservative.
We need to do the right thing in respecting this man and honoring his legacy. Throwing out names is pretty inappropriate.”
Tea Party activist Charlie Ehler — Allow a nominee:
“It’s the President’s prerogative to decide who he wants to nominate. I’ll let him follow that process — that’s not really for me to speculate on. Whoever he does present, that’s something the Senate will have to take up and I believe, in light of the way the bench has worked, we really need to insist on somebody who will interpret the constitution based on the original meaning and intent, which we rarely get.
If I were a sitting Senator, my question would be, ‘Are you going to interpret the constitution as it was written or are you gong to invent things…as many liberals tend to do?’ And if that’s the case, I would vote ‘no.’
I’m OK with following the process, but I would be a stickler about it. You send me somebody who I don’t think is going to interpret the Constitution with the original meaning and intent I would ‘no’ vote for that person. It’s that simple. Were I in that position that is what I would do.”
Pueblo businessman and military advocate Jerry Eller — Allow a nominee:
“I don’t have any problems with the President making any nominations. And just like it’s up to the president to appoint, it’s up to the Senate to decide on who they would confirm.
As far as choices, I’m not a big fan of lawyers and judges. But I would say that Sri Srinivasan, he’s on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, is kind of interesting. If I were a sitting Senator, it would take me a long time and I would have to research a lot judges and all of their cases. It would take a while. I don’t think we can just hastily decide on a judge. Even if other Senators of my party were for that judge, I would still be deliberate, cautious and particular in selecting.”
Former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier — No decision on allowing nominee:
In a statement: “My prayers are with Justice Antonin Scalia’s family. Our nation’s first Italian-American on the High Court, he was colorful, controversial at times, but always sought to uphold our constitution in interpreting the law as the founders of our great nation would have intended. Even those that disagreed with him respected his enormous intellect.
Let’s allow his family, friends, and supporters to grieve and begin to heal before we start the rigorous process of naming and confirming the next High Court Justice.”
El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn — Do not allow a nominee:
In a statement: “I’m saddened by the loss of a tremendous constitutional scholar and justice. As a candidate for U.S. Senate and pro-life Christian constitutional conservative, I will fight to ensure that Justice Scalia’s replacement is a strict constructionist defender of the constitution. I will also fight to carry out the will of the people by insisting that his replacement be delayed until the commencement of the next administration and Congress.”
Brighton Resident Tom Janich — Do not allow a nominee:
“I would definitely want to wait until the next president (is elected) and let more people weigh in on it. Whether it’s a republican or a democrat, I think we should wait until the next president comes in. Obviously I just want to see somebody that’s going to interpret the law and not legislate form the bench. There are going to be some interesting things coming up with potential tie votes, which means that lower court rulings will hold.
I’m going to give a lot more time to see who all comes forward from across the country and who’s suggested. It’s too early at this time.”
Former State Representative Jon Keyser — Do not allow a nominee:
In a statement: “Justice Scalia was a brilliant jurist and a staunch supporter of our constitutional principles. Our nation is a better place thanks to Justice Scalia’s devotion to protecting our Second Amendment rights, religious liberty, and freedom of speech. Emma and I send our prayers and sincerest condolences to Justice Scalia’s family at this difficult time.
Justice Scalia’s replacement should live up to his legacy as a strict constitutionalist and should be nominated by the next President of the United States. As a United States Senator, I will vote for Justices who have an established judicial record, are strict constitutionalists, and who will not legislate from the bench.”
El Paso County Commissioner Peg Littleton — No decision on allowing a nominee:
In a Feb. 13 Facebook post:
“Please join me in prayer at the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. An appointment from the Regan (sic) era and a strong Constitutional Conservative, he was the solid rock of the court. Not only will he be greatly missed, he will be even more difficult to replace. Please pray for those in the Senate that will need to stand strong and do their job!”
State Sen. Tim Neville — No decision on allowing a nominee:
My prayers are with the Scalia family. “I am also praying the Republican Senate majority will stand strong when they make the final decision over who replaces this champion of conservative values. Constitutionally sound conservatives must stand together and ensure that Justice Scalia’s principled stance on the Constitution will not be replaced with someone who lacks respect for our God-given rights.”
“As far as the schedule is concerned, the U.S. Senate is going to have the final say on who gets approved. So whether it happens now or after the next election, the Republican Senate majority needs to stand strong and only confirm a nominee that will stand firm in defense of the Constitution. “
Not responding so far for comment are: Jack Graham, Michael Kinlaw and Donald Rosier.