After meeting with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Claire McCaskill offered no hint if she would be supporting or opposing his confirmation.
The Democratic Senator from Missouri met with President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick on Tuesday and did disclose that her questions centered around health care, undisclosed donors in politics, and the power of corporations. She did not disclose Kavanaugh’s answers.
“I welcomed the opportunity to talk with Judge Kavanaugh about his views on ensuring Missourians retain critical health care protections, removing dark money from politics, and guaranteeing powerful corporate interests don’t prevail over individual Americans—and look forward to hearing more about how he approaches these issues during his upcoming confirmation hearing,” said McCaskill of the 45-minute meeting.
Kavanaugh made the rounds to various Senators like to cast crucial votes for his confirmation in their offices in Washington, D.C. After her meeting with the nominee, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said that Kavanaugh told her that he believes Roe v. Wade is settled law.
“We talked about whether he considered Roe to be settled law. He said that he agreed with what Justice (John) Roberts said at his nomination hearing, in which he said that it was settled law,” Collins said.
Missouri’s other U.S. Senator, Roy Blunt, had previously met with Kavanaugh and called him the “right choice” after the private meeting. Blunt said he would be voting in favor of confirming Kavanaugh to the high court.
With Republicans holding a slim 51-49 on the U.S. Senate, McCaskill’s re-election bid has garnered national attention. With sitting Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley as her opponent on the Republican side, the race is set to be contentious and competitive.
Hawley said he is in support of Kavanaugh being confirmed, calling him extremely qualified. He has made the Supreme Court vote a centerpiece of his election bid and attempting to cast McCaskill as a party-line Democrat who follows Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“Claire McCaskill ought to quit hiding, come out right now and say she’s gonna support him,” Hawley said on Fox and Friends Wednesday morning.
McCaskill has voted in support of more than two-thirds of Trump’s judicial nominations since he took office in January 2017. Last year, she voted against Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s previous Supreme Court nominee who was ultimate confirmed.
“The Supreme Court nominee is important, and it has the extremes of both parties very concerned, but most Missourians are more concerned about losing their health care because of preexisting conditions and raising the minimum wage — issues where Hawley is on the wrong side of Missouri voters,” said strategist Patrick Lynn.
Republicans in Missouri are trying to make the confirmation vote a focus of the race and as a test to whether or not McCaskill’s truly a moderate.
“The decision that Claire McCaskill makes on the confirmation vote for Judge Kavanaugh will likely have a sizable impact on the Senate race. In an election where motivating the base is important, this vote matters,” said James Harris, a political consultant.
“Evangelical and conservative voters want a Supreme Court that will defend the Constitution, and a no vote from Claire McCaskill will serve as another demonstration that she is a liberal, not just to the Republican base, but to independent voters as well. Claire supported President Obama’s nominees, but opposed Justice Gorsuch despite his eminent qualifications. Doing the same to Judge Kavanaugh will simply confirm that she is not the independent voice she claims to be.”
Hawley’s campaign sent an email mid-day Wednesday, “Senator, this is not a hard decision.” The Missouri Republican Party followed up, asking, “What is she waiting for?”
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.