Susan Collins is an increasingly rare species. It’s not just that she’s a moderate Republican, or a northeastern Republican, or even a pro-choice Republican. It’s that she still believes in the honor system in Washington.
Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement at the end of last month’s term has ignited heated political maneuvering over his replacement. President Trump is expected to announce his nominee to fill Kennedy’s Supreme Court seat on Monday, and it will test whether Collins’s faith is justified or shows itself to be as outdated and fragile as the many other norms discarded during the Trump era. Because the Republican margin in the Senate is slim and because she is a moderate, pro-choice member, the Maine senator has quickly become the center of speculation about the fate of Trump’s nominee. If Democrats maintain a united front, which is never a sure thing, Collins could be the swing vote, determining whether a nominee makes it to the bench or goes the way of Robert Bork.
“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 told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday.
She told ABC’s Martha Raddatz much the same. “So a nominee’s position, whether or not they respect precedent, will tell me a lot about whether or not they would overturn Roe v. Wade,” Collins said. “A candidate of this important position who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me, because that would indicate an activist agenda that I don’t want to see a judge have.”