WASHINGTON ― Progressive advocacy groups are furious about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh voting Thursday to let an anti-abortion law take effect in Louisiana. But they are directing their ire at another person too: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Collins, who is up for re-election in 2020, was pivotal to Kavanaugh’s narrow October confirmation to the court. All but one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), voted against Kavanaugh, in large part out of concerns that he would roll back abortion rights. Collins, who says she supports abortion rights, defended her vote by saying she believed he would follow Supreme Court precedent ― that is, preserve Roe v. Wade.
But Kavanaugh voted Thursday to let a Louisiana law take effect that would have left the state with just one physician allowed to perform abortions ― a break from precedent, as the law is virtually identical to a Texas anti-abortion law that the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. He was on the losing side of the court’s 5-4 decision, in which the majority said the restrictions must remain on hold while challengers appeal a lower court decision in favor of the law. But Kavanaugh took the extra step of writing a dissent, saying he would have let the law take effect.
Demand Justice, a progressive judicial advocacy group, is already up with a digital ad this weekend in Maine highlighting Collins’ vote for Kavanaugh. Titled “It Was All a Sham,” the Facebook ad features video footage of Collins shaking hands with Kavanaugh and audio of her voice saying she doesn’t believe Kavanaugh will weaken abortion rights.
“Collins promised to protect women’s rights,” read words across the screen. “It was all sham.”
The ad is part of a $10,000 digital ad buy the group is rolling out this week to remind Maine voters of Collins’ vote.
“Brett Kavanaugh has declared war on Roe, and Susan Collins is the one who made it possible,” said Executive Director Brian Fallon. “Collins now owns every decision that he makes.”
Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark said it’s worth noting that progressive groups responded “with near total silence” to Kavanaugh providing the deciding vote in a December Supreme Court ruling in favor of Planned Parenthood.
“If the far left groups weren’t targeting Senator Collins for Justice Kavanaugh, they would be targeting her for something else,” Clark said in an email. “The people of Maine have always appreciated Senator Collins’ diligent work ethic, her extraordinary command of federal issues, and her thoughtful and deliberative approach. And that’s exactly how she’s going to continue to proceed.”
But abortion rights groups aren’t letting Collins off the hook.
“We were called crazy and hysterical for suggesting he was hostile to #roevwade even though his record was clear,” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, posted on Instagram. “Susan Collins, you own this.”
Amelia Penniman, a spokesperson for the progressive research group American Bridge, said Kavanaugh wouldn’t even be on the court if it weren’t for Collins’ deciding vote.
“It has always been crystal clear that he intended to use his position to attack abortion rights, and thanks to Susan Collins, women will now pay the price,” Penniman said in a statement. “This will go down in history as a key portion of her legacy, and it’s a reality that she will have to answer for next year when she faces voters.”
Collins raised nearly $1.8 million in the last quarter of 2018 and the vast majority of it came from out-of-state supporters of Kavanaugh. It was the best fundraising quarter of her life.