colowyoEmbattled Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet has formed an advisory committee to determine who he thinks should fill an upcoming vacancy on the U.S. District Court in Colorado.

This has us concerned, because the last time we wrote about Bennet’s involvement with selecting a judicial nominee, it was U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson. He’s the same judge who issued the controversial decree that almost shut down Colowyo Mine.

Another recent Jackson ruling set a dangerous precedent that coal mines must determine the impact of coal on global warming as part of its environmental fact-finding before new operations can commence.

Needless to say, the Western Slope is not very thrilled with Bennet’s choice of judges.

We suppose that’s part of the reason Bennet formed the committee Oct. 27 and named his panel the “Bipartisan Selection Advisory Committee.”

The other reason seems to be that he wants to undercut the efforts of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who formed the Judicial Evaluation Committee back in August to fill the seat of Judge Robert Blackburn. It was announced back in April that Blackburn would retire.

Gardner’s panel has already conducted interviews and announced four nominations: Magistrate Judge Kristen Louise Mix, Patrick O’Rourke, Regina Marie Rodriguez and Samuel David Walker.

A Durango Herald article on Saturday claimed that Gardner has somehow violated a sacred Senate tradition by forming a panel without Bennet’s permission.

While it’s not uncommon for senators from different political parties to establish their own committees, the tradition is for the senior senator – in this case Bennet – to establish a judicial search committee when an upcoming vacancy is announced, and then for the junior senator to work alongside him or her in selecting a final nominee.

Interestingly, our research turned up no such tradition, and the Herald did not attribute their source on this, other than, we presume, Bennet’s office.

We find it ironic that Bennet would have the gall to include the word “bipartisan” in naming his panel, and then take a partisan swipe at Gardner for doing the job we also elected Gardner to do. And if the announcement of Judge Blackburn’s retirement came in April, why did Bennet wait seven months to form his own committee?

Timing is everything, and with the controversial Colowyo decision coming on the heels of Blackburn’s announcement, we’re betting that Bennet didn’t want to bring attention to his record on judicial picks.