Casey says he fears high court will undo health care gains
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey maintained his opposition to President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, telling a rally crowd to help stop a corporate justice from joining an already corporate Supreme Court.
Casey, of Pennsylvania, appeared with Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, of California, who’s headlining a pair of fundraisers for Casey and may have presidential ambitions in 2020.
Casey’s bid for a third term in the November general election is opposed by four-term Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, who has attacked Casey for opposing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Casey on Friday said he fears a court with two Trump appointees will undo gains in health insurance for Americans. He said Kavanaugh’s name came from a list of candidates that is a “corrupt bargain” among Trump, hard-right conservatives and corporate special interests.
“You have to be hard right to be on that list,” Casey told the crowd in a ballroom near the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia. “I don’t think that’s America. I don’t think that reflects the mainstream of America so we’re going to mobilize on this issue, just like we mobilized on health care and make sure that a corporate justice doesn’t land on an already corporate court.”
Harris’ visit fit neatly into Barletta’s narrative that Casey has grown too liberal for Pennsylvania since first being elected in 2006 and would be better suited to representing more liberal states like California or Massachusetts.
“This is not the same Bob Casey from 2006,” Barletta said. “This Bob Casey is like having (Massachusetts U.S. Sen.) Elizabeth Warren here in Pennsylvania, and that’s why he’s with someone from California.”
Barletta, who was in Harrisburg on Friday to speak to the Pennsylvania American Legion Conference, countered Casey’s argument against Kavanaugh that Casey had voted for two of the judges on Trump’s final list of four candidates for previous judicial appointments.
“They didn’t move far right,” Barletta said. “Bob Casey just moved so far left they looked right to him.”
Casey, who opposes abortion rights, did not mention in his speech the fear of many Democrats that a court with Kavanaugh will overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion.
Barletta, who supports Kavanaugh’s nomination, said that Casey “claiming” that he opposes abortion rights is undercut by his vote last year against Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, and then his vow to vote against Kavanaugh.
In any case, Barletta, who also opposes abortion rights, said he doesn’t think the court will throw out the precedent on abortion rights.
Barletta badly lags Casey in fundraising with four months until November’s general election, and no independent poll puts Barletta within striking distance of Casey. The race has hardly drawn any national attention, while the parties battling for U.S. Senate control are focused on races in at least 10 other states.
Meanwhile, Libertarian Party nominee Dale Kerns expects to file enough signatures by the Aug. 1 deadline to get on the ballot.
Barletta’s speech to the Pennsylvania American Legion Conference leaned heavily on his record fighting illegal immigration as the mayor of Hazleton.
Vice President Mike Pence is headlining a fundraiser in Philadelphia for Barletta next week. Barletta said he believes Trump also will bring “a lot” of money from donors to Pennsylvania to help him and expects Trump to campaign in Pennsylvania for him.
“The fact that the president is committed to come in and the vice president is coming in tells me that they’re confident that we can win this race as well,” Barletta said.
Levy reported from Harrisburg.