Government & Politics

McCaskill undecided on Gorsuch confirmation, Democratic filibuster

blowry@kcstar.com

“I have said all along that I felt that (U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil) Gorsuch deserved a hearing and some kind of vote on the floor. He will receive both of those,” U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, told reporters Tuesday.
“I have said all along that I felt that (U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil) Gorsuch deserved a hearing and some kind of vote on the floor. He will receive both of those,” U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, told reporters Tuesday. The Associated Press

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri declined to say Tuesday whether she’d join a filibuster by her party to block a vote on Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination.

“I have said all along that I felt that Gorsuch deserved a hearing and some kind of vote on the floor. He will receive both of those,” McCaskill told reporters on a press call Tuesday.

But McCaskill did not rule out joining a filibuster, and she echoed other Democrats’ complaints that Republicans had unfairly stonewalled Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

“I’m trying to compare and contrast this with Merrick Garland,” McCaskill said. “He didn’t even get a hearing.”

McCaskill also wasn’t ready to reveal whether she would vote to confirm Gorsuch, if a filibuster failed.

“I’m consuming all that information now, and I will continue to do that,” McCaskill said. “…Obviously, I am not ducking anything here because I’m going to vote one way or another.”

Missouri’s other senator, Republican Roy Blunt, praised Gorsuch in a speech Tuesday on the Senate floor.

“Judge Gorsuch’s performance during last week’s hearings leaves no doubt that he has the knowledge, temperament and experience required to serve on our nation’s highest court,” Blunt said. “He laid out a clear judicial philosophy that adheres to what most Americans and the framers of the Constitution want to see on the Supreme Court. In his own words, Judge Gorsuch said, ‘I have one client, the law.’ And that’s the way our founders saw the Supreme Court.”

Republicans need eight Democrats to vote with them to overcome the filibuster and bring Gorsuch’s nomination for a vote.

A dozen Democrats and one independent, Angus King of Maine, have yet to say publicly whether they will participate in the filibuster or vote to confirm Gorsuch.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he expected Gorsuch to be confirmed by April 7.

As a Democrat who will be up for re-election next year in a state that Donald Trump won by nearly 19 percentage points, McCaskill is coming under pressure from both the left and right over the nomination and filibuster.

The conservative Concerned Veterans for America made more than 30,000 calls to Missouri residents asking them to urge McCaskill to confirm Gorsuch. The group also launched a targeted web ad and direct mail campaign.

The National Rifle Association also funded an ad campaign targeting McCaskill and other Democrats in red-leaning states. The ads asked Missourians to tell McCaskill to confirm Gorsuch.

From the left, a group of liberal Missouri activists held a news conference in February calling on McCaskill to reject Gorsuch’s nomination. That group included abortion-rights organizations NARAL and Planned Parenthood, the Council on American-Islam Relations, the Sierra Club, the National Council of Jewish Women and immigrant advocates.

So far, McCaskill has voted to confirm 10 of Trump’s Cabinet nominees while opposing eight.

Bryan Lowry: 816-234-4077, @BryanLowry3

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