Despite the most bitter and polarizing U.S. Supreme Court confirmation processes in history, causing the political party divisions to grow deeper, Sen. Claire McCaskill says it should be out of voters’ minds before Election Day.
McCaskill, who is in a heated re-election bid against Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, told The Missourian Republicans will view the confirmation as a win and move on with many other issues coming through the news cycle.
On the flip side, Democrats see the opposition against Brett Kavanaugh as tit for tat and retaliation for Senate Republicans not allowing confirmation proceedings for Barack Obama Supreme Court appointee Merrick Garland to progress since a presidential election was months away.
In that case, the Republican majority argued a president should not be able to appoint a Supreme Court justice when he would be leaving office at the end of the year.
Instead, the newly elected, incoming president should have the opportunity.
Also at that time, the outcome of the 2016 election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was uncertain.
The recent confirmation hearings for now Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh spiraled into what many called a circus, despite talk on both sides of bipartisanship and cooperation.
McCaskill called the hearings a “car wreck” and said she was embarrassed by the way it all played out.
“Mistakes were made by both sides,” McCaskill said. “I hope Missourians will notice I stayed out of it.”
McCaskill voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but said her decision wasn’t based on the sexual assault allegations, but instead on writings he did regarding dark money donations while working in the White House for former President George W. Bush.
Dark money, or untraceable campaign donations, has been a key issue McCaskill has been challenging her opponent on throughout the campaign.
She claims more than 75 percent of Hawley’s 2016 campaign for attorney general was bankrolled by one donor, who gave $4 million.
Back to 60
Since the beginning of her time in the Senate, McCaskill has painted herself as a moderate, middle-of-the-road politician who has worked with members of her own and the opposing party.
The final Kavanaugh confirmation vote in the full Senate came to 51 to 49.
Only two of the 100 senators broke with their party, casting an opposite vote.
West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin was the sole Democrat to vote yes to confirm Kavanaugh.
He is running for re-election in a state that went heavily for Donald Trump in 2016.
For the Republicans, the sole no vote for Kavanaugh was cast by Lisa Murkowski of Maine.
McCaskill says the animus between parties too often spills into the confirmation of judges and cabinet members.
She added she wants to see the number of votes to confirm judges raised back to 60 instead of just 51 and thinks cabinet members should be confirmed without major obstructions.
“If you’re elected president, you should get your team,” she said. “You can’t look at judges through the eyes of partisanship. If it got back to 60 votes required, you would get a different group of people nominated. Otherwise the Supreme Court will become as partisan as Congress.”
She explained lowering the number from 60 to 51 was originally done for trial judges and was then applied to the Supreme Court to avoid partisan obstruction, but instead has made it worse.