Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) expressed disappointment Tuesday with the leaked Supreme Court draft that may overturn abortion rights, saying if it’s true, she was misled by the justices during their confirmation hearings.
“If this leaked draft opinion is the ultimate decision and this reporting is accurate, it will be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said of their hearings and in our meetings in my office,” Collins said, as reported by CNN.
Collins’ response is notable because she is one among the one Republican senators who claims to back abortion rights. Yet, she nevertheless voted to verify Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch — regardless that either side widely viewed them as likely votes to overturn those self same rights. (She voted against former President Donald Trump’s other pick, Amy Coney Barrett.)
Her support was a major disappointment for abortion rights supporters, who hoped they might persuade her to shed her partisan allegiances and see this threat to Roe v. Wade.
The vote was much closer on Kavanaugh (51-49). Collins repeatedly suggested that Kavanaugh wouldn’t vote to finish the national legal right to abortion access.
“Protecting this right is essential to me,” Collins said in a Senate floor speech, adding that Kavanaugh revered precedent and would hesitate to overturn past decisions.
Collins said she based her faith in Kavanaugh on his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in addition to private conversations she had with the nominee.
“After I asked him whether it will be sufficient to overturn a long-established precedent if five current justices believed it was wrongly decided, he emphatically said no,” Collins said.
“I don’t imagine Brett Kavanaugh will overturn Roe v. Wade,” Collins told CNN in 2018.
In 2019, when Kavanaugh dissented from a Supreme Court decision blocking a Georgia law geared toward restricting abortion access, Collins denied that she had been fallacious about his stance on Roe.
“To say that this case, this most up-to-date case, through which he wrote a really careful dissent, tells you that he’s going to repeal Roe v. Wade I feel is absurd,” she told CNN.
Yet in response to the leaked draft decision from February obtained by Politico, Kavanaugh ― and Gorsuch ― were among the many five conservative Supreme Court justices who were in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade. While drafts often undergo changes before being made public, that vote tally hasn’t modified, in response to the news outlet.
Collins told HuffPost in December that she favored Roe and wouldn’t comment on the current case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, “until the choice is rendered.”
Other senators said that they had a tough time believing that Supreme Court justices would say one thing to their colleagues before being confirmed after which rule against abortion rights.
“Once they’re saying it’s the law of the land, and after they arguably use this to persuade certain senators to vote for them, I feel that’s a serious problem,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said Monday in an interview on CNN.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), meanwhile, straight-up accused conservative justices of lying to members of Congress.
“Several of those conservative Justices, who’re on no account accountable to the American people, have lied to the U.S. Senate, ripped up the Structure and defiled each precedent and the Supreme Court’s status,” the 2 top Democrats said in a press release.