Key Dem McCaskill to oppose Gorsuch, back filibuster

Key Dem McCaskill to oppose Gorsuch, back filibuster

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemocrats turn on Al Franken Trump rips Dems a day ahead of key White House meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Mo.) on Friday said she will vote to support a filibuster of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

The announcement makes it significantly harder for Gorsuch to muster the 60 votes he needs to overcome a filibuster and advance to a final confirmation vote.

McCaskill is the first Democrat facing reelection next year in a state President Trump carried by double digits to come out against Gorsuch.

She announced her opposition in a statement posted to Medium, faulting the nominee for “a stunning lack of humanity.”

“I cannot support Judge Gorsuch because a study of his opinions reveal a rigid ideology that always puts the little guy under the boot of corporations,” she wrote.

McCaskill cited the judge's opinion in Transam Trucking v. Administrative Review Board, which sided with an employer who ordered a trucker to stay with a disabled vehicle in sub-zero weather conditions.

ADVERTISEMENT
She said the nomination of Gorsuch goes against the grain of Trump’s promise to help working-class Americans because he is “a judge who can’t even see them.”

McCaskill also raised concerns about Gorsuch’s refusal during his confirmation hearing to say how he viewed the constitutionality of campaign fundraising regulations, which were limited by the landmark case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010.

“I cannot and will not support a nominee that allows dark and dirty anonymous money to continue to flood unchecked into our elections,” she said.

McCaskill acknowledged that it was “a really difficult decision for me.”

An audio recording of McCaskill’s comments to a group of Democratic donors that surfaced Thursday revealed she was worried blocking Gorsuch could backfire on the party.

She warned that if Republicans ax the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, it would allow Trump to appoint an extreme conservative to fill a future vacancy.

McCaskill has previously expressed concern about the threat of a liberal primary challenger in 2018. Republicans on Friday accused her of pandering to liberal members of the base.

National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Katie Martin said McCaskill’s “decision today might appease the extreme liberal elite but, unfortunately for Claire, those folks don’t vote in Missouri.”

Her "no" vote shrinks the pool of Democrats who have undecided or unclear positions on Gorsuch to nine. Gorsuch's nomination needs the backing of eight Democrats or Independents, along with all 52 Republicans, to break a filibuster.

Only two Democrats have so far said they will vote to end a filibuster of Gorsuch and support his final confirmation, according to The Hill’s Whip List. Both of them, Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump rips Dems a day ahead of key White House meeting Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Wealthy outsiders threaten to shake up GOP Senate primaries MORE (W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's 12:30 Report Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (N.D.), represent states Trump won overwhelmingly in November.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) has vowed that Gorsuch will be confirmed and has told colleagues to expect a vote to change the rules to lower the threshold for ending a filibuster to a simple majority.

To avoid a showdown over the rules, it now becomes crucial for Gorsuch to pick up the support of the two remaining undecided Democrats who face reelection next year in strongly pro-Trump states: Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank GOP defeats Schumer bid to delay tax vote MORE (Mont.) and Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyTrump rips Dems a day ahead of key White House meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (Ind.).

Gorsuch would likely also need the support of senior Democrats such as Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Blumenthal: ‘Credible case' of obstruction of justice can be made against Trump MORE (Calif.), the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyAvalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign America isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash Your tax dollars fund Afghan child rape MORE (Vt.), who might be concerned about preserving their power to filibuster for the next vacancy on the court.

Other Democrats up in the air are centrist Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Comey back in the spotlight after Flynn makes a deal Warner: Every week another shoe drops in Russia investigation MORE (Va.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenate ethics panel wants details on sexual harassment allegations American innovation depends on strengthening patents Tax reform and innovation – good news and a cloud MORE (Del.), along with Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingTrump rips Dems a day ahead of key White House meeting Trump pushing Maine gov to run for Senate: report Schumer: Franken should resign MORE (Maine), who praised Gorsuch earlier this year as “exceedingly independent.”

Updated: 5:13 p.m.