Claire McCaskill, a Democrat representing the red state of Missouri, announced today that she intends to join the more liberal members of the Senate in filibustering Neil Gorsuch's nomination to fill the Supreme Court seat that has been vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia's death.
As of Thursday, 33 of the 48 Democrats in the 100-seat Senate had announced opposition to Gorsuch, the Colorado-based federal appellate judge nominated by Trump in January for a lifetime post on the Supreme Court.
If Senate Democrats filibuster Gorsuch's nomination, McConnell would need to invoke cloture. If the filibuster is successful, Republican leaders are expected to change Senate rules to confirm Gorsuch and make it easier to confirm justices in the future.
Most Democrats have said they would back an effort to block a confirmation vote using a procedural hurdle called a filibuster that requires 60 votes to allow a confirmation vote. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, also posted on Twitter that he would vote in favor of Gorsuch.
As Common Dreams reported Friday, Gorsuch has "refused to outright state his stance on critical Supreme Court decisions certain to face challenges in upcoming years, such as Roe v. Wade".
Several unidentified donors on the audio could be heard urging her to oppose Gorsuch, but others said they recognized the situation she was in.
Sen. Pat Leahy (Vermont) - Having been elected to office in 1975, Leahy is the most senior Democrat in the Senate.
"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.
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Sens. Richard Blumenthal of CT and Brian Schatz of Hawaii became the latest Democratic senators to announce their opposition to Gorsuch, a 49-year-old federal appeals court judge in Denver whose conservative rulings make him an intellectual heir to the justice he would replace, the late Antonin Scalia.
If the filibuster is beaten, the confirmation vote itself would require a simple majority.
McCaskill likely felt a need to stake out her position after moderate Democratic Sens.
"I think it's really interesting that the Republicans wanted to out the fact that I was so honest about how torn I am", she added.
Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Donnelly of IN also both represent strongly Trumpy states and are as yet undecided.
"The judge has consistently sided with corporations over employees, as in the case of a freezing truck driver who, contrary to common sense, Judge Gorsuch would have allowed to be fired for abandoning his disabled rig during extreme weather conditions", Nelson said.
"I'm open to anyone who's got a reasonable suggestion for how we might slow what seems to be an inexorable path towards changing the rules", Coons said on Thursday.
McConnell has said he wouldn't rule out changing the rule, known as the "nuclear option", to confirm Gorsuch.
She pointed to the list of potential nominees that Trump released before the election to galvanize conservative support.