Who could have seen this coming? Not Senator Susan Collins.
In a statement following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Sen. Collins expressed her dismay that Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh misrepresented their alleged respect for precedent and private conversations with her and in their confirmation hearings. “This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents,” she wrote.
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Rolling Stone reported last month that Collins was deliberately manipulated by Trump officials into voting for Kavanaugh despite his judicial history indicating a liability to strike down Roe. The White House correctly predicted that as long as they “let the Susan Collins-es of the world think what they needed to think and hear what they needed to hear,” as one ex-official put it, the fence-sitters would fall in line and vote to confirm Trump’s nominee.
Some officials working on Kavanaugh’s confirmation even privately mocked Collins as a “cheap date” because of how easy it would be to get her to vote for the anti-choice nominee.
Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48, with Collins casting the key vote in his favor.
The senator from Maine would continue to defend Kavanaugh well after his confirmation to the court. In 2019 she asserted that Kavanaugh “said under oath many times, as well as to me personally many times, that he considers Roe to be ‘precedent upon precedent’ because it had been reaffirmed in the Casey v. Planned Parenthood case.” When pressed by CNN anchor Jake Tapper on if she thought Justice Gorsuch would support a decision overturning Roe v. Wade Collins replied, “I actually don’t,” citing a “very long discussion with Justice Gorsuch in my office” where he pointed out that “he is a co-author of a whole book on precedent.”
Collins expressed shock and deep concern last month when a draft of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Services decision indicating the justices would likely vote to overturn Roe was leaked to the public. In the intervening time between the leaked decision and the final ruling, Collins seems to have busied herself with forgetting every single warning sign that reproductive rights in this country were at risk. The statement Collins gave at the time is virtually identical to the statement given Friday in response to the final ruling.
“If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office,” Collins stated. “Obviously, we won’t know each Justice’s decision and reasoning until the Supreme Court officially announces its opinion in this case.”
Collins’ shock at the time of the draft leak rested on her inability to reconcile the notion that Justice Brett Kavanaugh — with his extremely conservative track record on abortion — would go back on his claim that he would respect the precedent of Roe as a Supreme Court justice. He did, turning the pro-choice Collins into one of the key figures who helped the Supreme Court overturn Roe.
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