Hazard or opportunity for McCaskill? SCOTUS nomination could be either, says Wash U law professor | St. Louis Public Radio

Hazard or opportunity for McCaskill? SCOTUS nomination could be either, says Wash U law professor

Jul 10, 2018

President Trump on Monday evening chose Brett Kavanaugh to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy left by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh will now go before the U.S. Senate for confirmation.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Greg Magarian, J.D., professor of law at Washington University, about the nomination and its local implications. Magarian previously clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens.

The nomination of Kavanaugh promises to have implications in Missouri, particularly in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill and her most likely Republican challenger, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Greg Magarian is a law professor at Washington University and previously clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens.
Credit Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

“A Supreme Court nomination is a big, politically salient event,” Magarian said. “It gets people paying attention to the president and the Senate in a way that’s different than what we ultimately think about politics and government.

“In particular here in Missouri, Senator McCaskill tries very hard in a lot of ways to be bipartisan. There’s going to be pressure on her from the center-right to support this nomination. There’s going to be strong pressure on her from the left to oppose this nomination.”

Magarian said the nomination fight could be either a hazard or opportunity for McCaskill.

“It could be a way for her to sort of lay out her identity and priorities in a very emphatic way, but it could be a tough row for her to hoe,” he said. “The decision for McCaskill is going to be the most fraught thing. If she opposes the nominee, Attorney General Josh Hawley is going to say that this is a partisan Democrat.”

If confirmed, Kavanaugh would move the high court substantially to the right.

“He is deeply conservative and that’s really significant in the case of this vacancy,” Magarian said, noting that Kavanaugh is substantially to the right of Kennedy.

Listen to the interview to hear more analysis including a discussion about originalism, the Federalist Society and how a new makeup of the Supreme Court might influence abortion rights.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Caitlin Lally give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.