With the Republicans holding a thin 51-49 majority in the Senate and John McCain potentially not returning to vote during confirmation hearings, the Democrats could theoretically block the confirmation of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, by flipping one Republican. The most likely Republican swing vote is Maine Senator Susan Collins, who has stated that she would not vote to confirm a SCOTUS pick that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
We reached out to Senator Collins to get her read on the new pick.
Pajiba: Senator Collins, you are on the record as saying that you “would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade.” Now that you know who the nominee is, do you know how you might vote?
Collins: As the pick was just made a few minutes ago, I would need to go through and see if Judge Kavanaugh has indicated how he feels about abortion rights.
Pajiba: In his dissenting opinion in Garza v. Hargan, Kavanaugh expressed some hostility toward abortion rights by stating that a teenager in a detention center could not immediately obtain an abortion, as the majority had ruled. He noted in his opinion that “the Government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion,” while also suggesting that the majority opinion was a “radical extension of the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence.”
That sounds like a judge who is not exactly a supporter of Roe v. Wade.
Collins — Oh well, yes. I’ll take that under advisement, but I think it’s important to find out as much as possible during the confirmation hearings, and I will base my decision on what I hear from him.
10 Weeks Later, During the Confirmation Hearings
Senator Collins: Judge Kavanaugh, what is your position on established precedent?
Judge Kavanaugh: No comment.
Senator Collins: If given the opportunity, would you rule to overturn Roe v. Wade?
Judge Kavanaugh: No comment.
Senator Collins: Cool! Thanks for your time.
The Morning After the Confirmation Hearings
Pajiba: Having had the opportunity to question Judge Kavanaugh about his position on Roe v. Wade, are you confident in how you will vote now?
Senator Collins: Judge Kavanaugh didn’t say anything to me that indicated he was willing to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Pajiba: OK, but he didn’t express support for Roe, either, and when Senator Grassley asked him how he might rule on abortion, Kavanaugh stated, “You’ll just have to wait and see,” before winking to the Republican Senator.
Senator Collins: That’s true, yes. But I have received assurances from Mitch McConnell and the Freedom Caucus that if Judge Kavanaugh overturns Roe v. Wade, Congress will vote to legalize abortion nationally.
Pajiba: And you believe them?
Collins: I have no reason not to.
Collins: So, you’re a “Yes” on Judge Kavanaugh?
Collins: I’m still weighing my options.
One Week Later, Judge Kavanaugh is sworn in after VP Mike Pence broke a tie vote after the Senate voted 49-49 with one abstention, Susan Collins
Pajiba: How do you feel now that Judge Kavanaugh has been sworn in, knowing that you could have been the decisive vote?
Collins: If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have voted against Judge Kavanaugh, but since I can’t, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. But I’m not worried! Mitch McConnell made a promise to me, and Mitch McConnell keeps his promises!
Nine Months Later, Kavanaugh is the deciding vote in a Supreme Court opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade. Abortion has been outlawed in 18 states, and is expected to be illegal in seven more within the next year.
Pajiba: How do you feel knowing that you could have prevented the Supreme Court from overturning Roe v. Wade, Senator Collins?
Collins; How is this my fault? I didn’t vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Pajiba: But you didn’t vote against it, either.
Collins: Well, I’m still weighing my options. I promise to hold Mitch McConnel’s feet to the fire for as long as necessary to ensure that Congress votes to legalize abortion nationwide. This is my top priority, and I will not rest until abortion is legal again in every state in this country.
Six Weeks Later, Susan Collins Retires from the Senate