JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Attorney General Josh Hawley has officially set his sights on battling it out with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill in the 2018 Senatorial race.

Recent decisions by the Supreme Court, including public sector union agreements, internet sales tax, the travel ban, abortion, and more, as well as the announced retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, have dominated the political news cycle, and Hawley on Thursday challenged the incumbent Democratic senator to a debate concerning the Supreme Court and its role in American life.

Hawley began his career working at the Supreme Court for Chief Justice John Roberts, and has represented the State of Missouri in pending litigation. Now, Hawley is challenging Senator McCaskill to participate in a debate that focuses on the issues the Court recently ruled on and future matters that may come before the body.

He is also challenging McCaskill on the issue of what criteria should be used to select the next Supreme Court justice after Kennedy retires.

“The Supreme Court is the defining issue of our time. The Court makes decisions on some of the most pivotal issues in society — from the right to bear arms, to religious liberty, to immigration — and it is incumbent upon a United States Senator to outline what judicial philosophy they want justices to hold,” Hawley said in a statement. “My top criteria for the next nominee includes enforcing the Constitution the way the people wrote it, not according to a judge’s personal preferences, and a willingness to stand up to political pressure.”

“Senator McCaskill has been wrong on the last five Supreme Court nominees. Now she is ducking the question what type of judge the President should nominate. Senator McCaskill needs to stop hiding on this issue. Missourians deserve to hear where she stands on what type of judge she wants on the Supreme Court. Judging by her history, and her commitment to her party’s big money, she will support only an activist liberal. She should explain herself.”

McCaskill filibustered and voted against President Donald Trump’s previous nominee to the Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch, and said Wednesday that she would wait to discuss the criteria she’ll use to vet Kennedy’s replacement until after a nomination is made.

“I thank Justice Kennedy for his long and dedicated service to our country, and I believe it’s premature to discuss his replacement until one has been nominated,” McCaskill said in a statement.

Opponents of Hawley in the Republican primary, in turn, called on Hawley to debate them, though so far in the campaign, Hawley has yet to acknowledge the other candidates in his campaign.