A Republican senator has pledged not to support President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, if that nominee is pro-life and poses a threat to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
Susan Collins, the Republican senator from Maine, has always leaned to the left, despite her political party. She’s also been decidedly pro-choice, not surprising in a such a blue state.
Even though President Trump has said he will not make abortion a litmus test for any nominee, Collins is applying such a test. She will not consider any pro-life nominees that could overturn Roe vs. Wade.
The White House is focusing on five to seven potential candidates to fill the vacancy of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote on the court. The Maine senator said she would only back a judge who would show respect for settled law such as the 45-year-old Roe decision, which has long been an anathema to conservatives.
“I would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade because that would mean to me that their judicial philosophy did not include a respect for established decisions, established law,” Collins said.
Such a judge, she said, “would not be acceptable to me because that would indicate an activist agenda.”
Many Democrats are already trying to convince Collins that any nominee Trump names will be pro-life, attempting to undermine her possible support entire. Brian Fallon, a former aide to Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton, tweeted that exact narrative.
Susan Collins to @jaketapper: "The President told me he would not ask that question" about Roe.
He doesnt need to, Susan Collins. The Federalist Society picked the list for Trump because they already know which judges are anti-Roe.
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) July 1, 2018
Trump spent the weekend at his New Jersey golf club conferring with his advisers, including White House counsel Don McGahn, as he considers his options to fill the vacancy that might make precedent-shattering court decisions on abortion, health care, gay marriage and other issues.
The president told reporters Friday that he was homing in on up to seven candidates, including two women, and would announce his choice on July 9.
Trump is expected to begin his search in earnest this week at the White House and said the process could include interviews at his golf club before he reaches a final decision following the Fourth of July holiday.
Pro-choice advocates do not trust Collins to keep her word, and Republicans are hopeful she may still support Trump’s nominee, after she stated her trust of Neil Gorsuch, which angered abortion supporters.
Susan Collins today: "I actually don't” think Justice Gorsuch would overrule Roe. “someone who devotes that much time to writing a book on precedent, I think, understands how important a principle that is in our judicial system."
Gorsuch Tuesday: vote to overrule 41-year old case
— Ruth Marcus (@RuthMarcus) July 1, 2018
During his 2016 campaign and presidency, Trump embraced anti-abortion groups and vowed to appoint federal judges who will favor efforts to roll back abortion rights. But he told reporters on Friday that he would not question potential high-court nominees about their views on abortion, saying it was “inappropriate to discuss.”
The Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, but anti-abortion advocates hope Roe v. Wade will soon be overruled if Trump gets the chance to appoint a justice who could cast a potentially decisive vote against it.
Without Kennedy, the high court will have four justices picked by Democratic presidents and four picked by Republicans, giving Trump the chance to shift the ideological balance toward conservatives for years to come. Both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first pick to the high court, have indicated more broadly that they respect legal precedent.
Many Republicans are downplaying how abortion will factor in to the selection of the nominee.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Judiciary Committee, said he didn’t think Trump would be overly focused on the Roe ruling.
“You don’t overturn precedent unless there’s a good reason,” Graham said. “I would tell my pro-life friends: You can be pro-life and conservative, but you can also believe in ‘stare decisis,’” he said, citing the legal term involving legal precedent that means “to stand by things decided.”
Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate, and it’s even closer because of the absence of ailing Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Even though McConnell changed Senate rules last year to allow confirmation by simple majority, if Democrats hold together, he cannot afford defections. Vice President Mike Pence can be called on to break a tie.
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