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WASHINGTON (AP) As he tries to line up enough votes to block President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, the Senate Democratic leader is strongly warning Republicans against changing Senate rules to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch. Claire McCaskill announced Friday that she'll oppose Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Sen. McCaskill supports Obamacare, she supports taxpayer funding of abortion, she voted for two of President Obama's liberal Supreme Court nominees, and now she is refusing to even give Judge Gorsuch a fair up or down vote in the Senate", said Judicial Crisis Network's Chief Counsel Carrie Severino in a statement. But Toomey says this is different.
Although Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, Democrats could filibuster Gorsuch if they can muster 41 votes against the appeals court judge.
Both senators, who come from red states, insist that their votes don't signify support for Gorsuch's conservative positions. She referred to Gorsuch as a "dangerous" nominee, but used the same word to describe the ramifications of blowing up Senate rules to confirm him. He's participated in past judicial confirmation compromises created to retain Senate traditions including the filibuster. "But there's nobody that I know of in the Republican conference that thinks that we should have a four- or eight-year series of vacancies on the Supreme Court". McCaskill is warning her party it could be politically unsafe to block President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee. That leaves 12 Democrats who have yet to announce their decisions. "Judge Gorsuch's allegiance to corporations disqualifies him from the highest court in the land".
Ayotte said: "It may come down to that the Senate Republican caucus has to make the decision of whether to change the rules to a 50-vote threshold".
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. So even if Democrats want to push their own nominees through, they will have fewer chances. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee called upon Heather McGhee to testify against the nomination during his confirmation hearings.
An audio recording of McCaskill's comments to a group of Democratic donors that surfaced Thursday revealed she was anxious blocking Gorsuch could backfire on the party. As Senator Charles Grassley said, "If you'd filibuster Judge Gorsuch, it's obvious you'd filibuster anybody".
McCaskill had seemed like a particularly open-minded possibility following a Kansas City Starreport earlier this week, which featured comments she made a behind closed doors warning Democratic donors about the consequences to blocking Gorsuch's nomination.
The confirmation vote itself would require a simple majority in the chamber, which Republicans control 52-48. Of course, if Democrats do this, Republicans could use the "nuclear option" to end the use of filibusters for Supreme Court nominations altogether.
"What then? So they move it to 51 votes and they confirm either Gorsuch or they confirm the one after Gorsuch".