McCaskill warns blocking Gorsuch could put Supreme Court in 'jeopardy'

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillRed-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Analysis: Dark money groups have funded 44 percent of 2018 congressional ads Beto O'Rourke is dominating Ted Cruz in enthusiasm and fundraising — but he's still headed for defeat MORE (D-Mo.) told Democratic donors that filibustering President Trump's Supreme Court nominee could place the court in "jeopardy," the Kansas City Star reported Thursday.

If Democrats block Neil Gorsuch, she said, Republicans could do away with the filibuster altogether, meaning they would need a simple 51-vote majority to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. McCaskill argued that would be particularly problematic if a current justice on the court died or retired, essentially giving Trump free reign to nominate whomever he wants.

"So they move it to 51 votes and they confirm either Gorsuch or they confirm the one after Gorsuch,” she said in a recording obtained by the Star. “They go on the Supreme Court and then, God forbid, Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies, or [Anthony] Kennedy retires or [Stephen] Breyer has a stroke or is no longer able to serve."

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"Then we’re not talking about Scalia for Scalia, which is what Gorsuch is, we’re talking about Scalia for somebody on the court who shares our values. And then all of a sudden the things I fought for with scars on my back to show for it in this state are in jeopardy."

Some Senate Democrats have vowed to block Gorsuch's confirmation after Republicans refused to hold a hearing for former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDem pollster: Trump stronger politically than critics expected Obama updates summer reading list 2018 is the year India, China and Israel go to the moon MORE's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, last year. But some Republican lawmakers have threatened to change Senate rules if Democrats filibuster, effectively getting rid of the procedural tactic and confirming Gorsuch with a simple majority.

McCaskill reportedly told the donors that Gorsuch is "one of the better" nominees that Trump could have picked to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia's death last year. If Democrats block Gorsuch, she said, Trump's next choice could be "worse."

"They pick another one off the list and then they bring it over to the Senate and we say no, no, no, this one’s worse," she said. "And there’s not enough votes to confirm him. They’re not going to let us do that too long before they move it to 51 votes.”

McCaskill has said she is still undecided on Gorsuch, a judge on the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Asked on Wednesday about her comments to the Democratic donors, the Missouri Democrat reiterated that she was "torn" on the nomination and warned that both options — voting for Gorsuch or blocking him — had their own consequences.

"I said honestly I hadn't decided which you guys all know, and I said honestly I'm torn, which I think everybody knows," she told reporters.

"Both alternatives I think have a lot of danger," she added.

McCaskill is up for reelection in 2018, and is seen as vulnerable by Republicans, who are hoping to use Trump's sizable electoral win in Missouri to expand their Senate majority.