Colorado leaders respond to the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

News of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday was met with quick praise for her legacy by Colorado leaders, with the critical question of who will replace her — and when — mostly not addressed in initial statements from either party.

“It is with a solemn heart that I pray for the family of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” said Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. “Thank you for your service to our country and our nation’s highest court. Our nation mourns the loss of a trailblazing leader.”

Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser, who clerked for Ginsburg in 1995 and 1996, said he had just seen her in Washington in December.

“I was able to stop by and visit her, and she said to me, tongue in cheek, ‘How’s my favorite general? I’m the only one of her clerks who was elected attorney general,” he said.

Weiser described himself as “heartbroken” over her loss.

“Justice Ginsburg is an inspiration, she is an extraordinary jurist, she’s a valuable mentor, and she’s a part of my life. It’s hard to believe she’s gone. … Our nation’s jurisprudence, commitment to equality and belief in the rule of law are better because she served and was a tremendous leader. I’m feeling a lot of gratitude on a national level and a personal level. I’m also feeling a lot of a sense of loss, on a national and a personal level.”

Said Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in a statement: “Today Coloradans and our nation mourn the loss of a titan. We have lost a fearless advocate for women and families and someone who never stopped working toward greater equality for all in the eyes of the law. I am deeply saddened by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

A candlelight vigil for Ginsburg was announced for 8 p.m. Friday in Denver’s City Park, at the statue of Martin Luther King Jr., according to Democratic state lawmakers helping to organize the event.

Gardner is one a handful of Republican senators thrust into the spotlight anew by Ginsburg’s death. If President Donald Trump seeks to appoint a new justice to the court before the election, Gardner could be one of the Senate’s key swing votes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday evening that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

In February 2016, the week that the late Justice Antonin Scalia died, Gardner said, “I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.”

A spokesperson for Gardner’s Democratic colleague and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet said Bennet believes a new Supreme Court justice should not be confirmed by the Senate before the election or during a lame-duck session between November and January. Denver Congressman Diana DeGette, also a Democrat, echoed that: the Senate “must wait until the next administration is sworn into office, whoever that may be, before considering a nominee to replace her,” she said.

Gardner’s office had not responded Friday evening to The Denver Post’s request for comment on how and when the Supreme Court seat should be filled.

Staff writer Justin Wingerter contributed to this report. This is a developing story and will be updated.

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