Collins in the hot seat on abortion and Trump nominees

The Republican senator from Maine suggests she was misled by two of President Trump’s appointees to the nation’s high court.
A sideview of Susan Collins speaking to a crowd
All eyes are on Sen. Susan Collins following a leaked opinion that the U.S. Supreme Court is likely poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette of the Portland Press Herald.

US Sen. Susan Collins has drawn intense scrutiny in the days since a leaked of a draft ruling indicating a majority of the US Supreme Court is ready to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Collins voted for justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom were in that apparent majority.

Collins has suggested Gorsuch and Kavanaugh indicated during the confirmation process that they would not overturn the historic abortion decision. “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,’’ she said in a statement this week.

Voters and abortion rights advocates, though, say Collins was warned. The Washington Post reported that Marie Follayttar, whose organization opposed President Trump’s court nominees and also tried to defeat Collins in 2020, noted that group assembled a letter from more than 200 Maine lawyers who predicted that Kavanaugh was disposed to overturn Roe.

“The challenge is that, when it’s the loss of our rights … there’s no joy, there no jubilation, there’s zero satisfaction in being correct,” Follayttar, who leads Mainers for Accountable Leadership, told the Post.

Collins’ vote for Kavanaugh was especially crucial. He was confirmed 50-48.

The Boston Globe, meanwhile, interviewed critical voters in Maine for a story that said was assailed in her home state for her support of the Trump nominees.

“Since Kavanaugh said it was settled law, I kind of took him at his word,” Russell Turner, of Harpswell,  told the Globe.

“You have to wonder, who lied there?” the 69-year-old Turner said. “Did he lie? Did she?”

The New York Times noted that neither Collins nor Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, both of whom support abortion rights, have been willing to break with GOP leaders to vote with Democrats and end a Senate filibuster on abortion. With the Senate at a virtual 50-50 tie, Democrats would have to end the filibuster in order to bring up a bill placing Roe’s protections into federal law.

On Thursday, Collins said she would not vote for a Democratic bill that would create a legal right to abortion. She said the bill doesn’t protect antiabortion health providers, according to the Post. 

The Post reported that Collins told reporters: “It supersedes all other federal and state laws, including the conscience protections that are in the Affordable Care Act . . .“It doesn’t protect the right of a Catholic hospital to not perform abortions. That right has been enshrined in law for a long time.”


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