Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) told reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday that she is “torn” about how to vote on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court next week. More than two dozen Democrats are pushing for a filibuster of Gorsuch, setting the Senate up for a nasty showdown next week that may permanently change the chamber’s rules.
“I haven’t decided and it’s hard,” McCaskill said. “It’s obviously a difficult situation, and both alternatives have a lot of danger.”
The “alternatives” McCaskill referred to are either:
1. Filibuster Gorsuch—which will almost certainly push Republicans to invoke the so-called nuclear option and ram his nomination through on a simple majority vote without Democratic support.
2. Allow Gorsuch to have a floor vote and hold their fire for the next Supreme Court vacancy.
Since Gorsuch would replace another staunch conservative, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, it would be the next vacancy that truly tips the ideological balance of the high court, McCaskill is arguing.
In a closed-door event with donors, according to audio obtained by the Kansas City Star, McCaskill said voting against Gorsuch could result in someone worse for progressives being appointed to the court in the future when one of the more liberal justices departs.
“God forbid, Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies, or (Anthony) Kennedy retires or (Stephen) Breyer has a stroke or is no longer able to serve,” McCaskill told the audience. “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.”
Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.