The Buzz

Claire McCaskill pays tribute to Judge Scott Wright


It’s not often that Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill tears up publicly.

But she did recently at an investiture ceremony in Kansas City for Steve Bough as a new federal judge for the Western District of Missouri.

No, McCaskill wasn’t regretting her stalwart efforts to get the U.S. Senate to confirm Bough on the last roll call vote before the Christmas recess.

Early in her remarks, McCaskill paid homage to federal Judge Scott O. Wright, also of the Western District, who at 92 attended the ceremony despite a host of health issues.

Turns out McCaskill and Wright go way back. The families of both public officials once lived in Columbia, Mo., and they were friendly with each other. McCaskill attended high school with Wright’s stepson. And McCaskill’s mother, Betty Anne, and Wright were fast friends, who were known to rib each other with regularity.

It’s that memory that got McCaskill said got her weepy.

“They were always trying to outdo each other in terms of outrageous things they said and how hard they laughed,” McCaskill said in an interview.

In the ceremony for Bough, McCaskill recalled Wright’s ability to laugh out loud. It’s a laugh, McCaskill said, that’s really more of a cackle.

Wright, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, taught many people that it’s OK “to be controversial sometimes” as long as you stay true to who you are.

“He just attacks life in terms of his sense of humor and his ability to laugh at himself,” McCaskill told The Buzz. “He’s one of the most self-effacing federal judges in the country in terms of his ability to laugh at himself.

“He’s lived passionately. I don’t think it gets any better than that.”

Betty Anne used to refer to Wright as a “salty good egg,” McCaskill said.

“It reminded me of my family, and it certainly made me think of the years he’s put in public service.”