Hours after the Supreme Court issued its Friday ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and, with it, the constitutionally protected right to an abortion, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) sat down with the New York Times to voice her surprise that we’ve ended up here.
“I feel misled,” she told the paper of record.
“This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents that the country has relied upon,” she said in a statement released earlier Friday.
Collins’ staff shared contemporaneous notes with the Times, taken during the senator’s meetings with Kavanaugh in 2018.
“Start with my record, my respect for precedent, my belief that it is rooted in the Constitution, and my commitment and its importance to the rule of law,” one excerpt of Kavanaugh’s remarks said. “I understand precedent and I understand the importance of overturning it.”
Of course, in the notes published by the Times, Kavanaugh never said explicitly he wouldn’t overturn Roe.
“Roe is 45 years old, it has been reaffirmed many times, lots of people care about it a great deal, and I’ve tried to demonstrate I understand real-world consequences,” read another excerpt.
“I am a don’t-rock-the-boat kind of judge,” he claimed in another. “I believe in stability and in the Team of Nine.”
Collins also told the Times that Justice Gorsuch impressed upon her that he had “written the book” on precedent, a reference to a 2016 work he co-authored with 12 others titled The Law of Judicial Precedent.
Fellow centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) made a similar claim of bafflement Friday, also alleging betrayal by Kavanaugh and Gorsuch. Both senators provided critical votes to allow the duo to be confirmed. In Kavanaugh’s case, confirmation came following a contentious set of hearings that included accusations of sexual misconduct. In Gorsuch’s case, it, of course, followed the theft of Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court seat.
“I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans,” Manchin said Friday.
Collins’ votes for conservative Supreme Court justices became a key issue in her 2020 campaign for reelection, with Maine Democrats demanding accountability for the sentor’s support of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. Collins voted against Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, which came days before voters went to the polls.
“Throwing out a precedent overnight that the country has relied upon for half a century is not conservative,” she said in her Friday statement. “It is a sudden and radical jolt to the country that will lead to political chaos, anger, and a further loss of confidence in our government.”