Susan Collins Dismayed Supreme Court Justice Misled Her On Abortion

"I do not believe Brett Kavanaugh will overturn Roe v. Wade," the GOP senator, who claims to back abortion rights, said in 2018.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) expressed disappointment Tuesday with the leaked Supreme Court draft that would overturn abortion rights ― saying that if it’s true, they were misled by certain justices during their confirmation hearings.

“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 said in a statement.

Collins’ reaction is notable because she is one of the only Republican senators who claims to back abortion rights. Nevertheless, she voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch — even though both sides widely viewed them as likely votes to overturn those same rights. (She voted against former President Donald Trump’s other pick, Amy Coney Barrett.)

Her support was a significant disappointment for abortion rights supporters, who hoped they could convince 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 end the national legal right to abortion access.

“Protecting this right is important 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, as well as private conversations she’d had with the nominee.

“When I asked him whether it would be sufficient to overturn a long-established precedent if five current justices believed it was wrongly decided, he emphatically said no,” Collins said.

“I do not believe 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 aimed at restricting abortion access, Collins denied that she had been wrong about his stance on Roe.

“To say that this case, this most recent case, in which he wrote a very careful dissent, tells you that he’s going to repeal Roe v. Wade, I think is absurd,” she told CNN.

Murkowski told reporters that Monday’s leaked opinion “rocked my confidence in the court, because I think there was some representations made with regards to precedent and settled law.” The Alaska Republican, who supports abortion rights, voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation. She did support Barrett’s confirmation, however.

According to the leaked draft decision obtained by Politico, which was drafted in February, Kavanaugh ― and Gorsuch ― were among the 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 changed, according to the news outlet.

Collins told HuffPost in December that she favored Roe and wouldn’t comment on the present case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, “until the decision is rendered.”

Other senators said they had a hard time believing that Supreme Court justices would say one thing to their colleagues before being confirmed and then rule against abortion rights.

“When they’re saying it’s the law of the land, and when they arguably use this to convince certain senators to vote for them, I think that’s a major 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, flatly accused conservative justices of lying to members of Congress.

“Several of these conservative Justices, who are in no way accountable to the American people, have lied to the U.S. Senate, ripped up the Constitution and defiled both precedent and the Supreme Court’s reputation,” the two top Democratic lawmakers said in a statement.

But when asked about Collins’ comments on Tuesday, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee said they didn’t feel the Supreme Court justices had misrepresented their positions on Roe v. Wade.

“The justices did exactly what they said they would do,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said, adding that he believed the leaked opinion relies on the appropriate reasoning to overturn a longtime precedent.

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