Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has once again indicated that she trusts Brett Kavanaugh would uphold abortion rights if confirmed to the Supreme Court, despite what the conservative judge has said to the contrary.
“First of all, I do not believe he’s going to repeal Roe v. Wade,” Collins said in an interview released Monday for Showtime’s “The Circus.”
Collins said she is “very close” to making a decision on Kavanaugh’s confirmation but is waiting to hear from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school.
“How could I decide before hearing the testimony of Professor Ford?” Collins said.
Collins is one of a handful of moderate senators considered to be swing votes on Kavanaugh, who needs the approval of all but one Republican in the Senate to be confirmed. She has said in the past that she could not support a Supreme Court nominee who is hostile to Roe, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion throughout the United States.
Kavanaugh reportedly assured Collins in a one-on-one meeting that he believes Roe is “settled law” ― a statement she appears to have accepted without question. But Kavanaugh has consistently ruled against abortion rights as a federal judge. He has written that the Supreme Court “can always overturn” Roe and that some conservative justices “would do so.”
“I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent,” he wrote in a 2003 memo that was released earlier this month.
Even if Kavanaugh didn’t vote to overturn Roe, the Supreme Court could have many opportunities in the coming years to gut abortion access by allowing states to regulate it out of existence, as Texas tried to do with a pair of laws in 2013 that shut down half the abortion clinics in the state.
Collins is facing a massive amount of pressure in Maine to block Kavanaugh, as polls show a majority of her constituents support Roe v. Wade. But she could also face a primary challenge from the right in 2020, raising the stakes of her voting against her party.
Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said Collins would be betraying women, sexual assault survivors and the reproductive rights movement if she voted for Kavanaugh.
“We worked very, very hard since the day Kavanaugh was nominated to frame exactly who this guy is, how hostile he is towards women, particularly on abortion rights,” Hogue said on “The Circus.” “You’ve got this woman who sacrificed everything to tell her story, and if they move forward on top of that, they’re telling all of us that we don’t matter.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated how many Republican votes in the Senate are needed to confirm Kavanaugh. It is all but one, not every one.