Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said Sunday that she would not support a Supreme Court nominee who had “demonstrated hostility” toward Roe v. Wade, “because that would mean to me that their judicial philosophy did not include a respect for established decisions,” and that President Donald Trump “may not have been informed” when he pledged to make abortion a litmus test during the presidential campaign.
Collins and a handful of other potential swing votes on the President’s future nominee met with Trump Thursday.
In an interview with Collins, who characterized Roe as “settled law” and “a constitutional right that is well-established,” CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday played footage of Trump telling him in 2015 that opposition to abortion would be a litmus test when picking Supreme Court nominees.
“The President told me in our meeting that he would not ask that question, and that is what he has most recently said on the advice of his attorney,” Collins responded. “So I think what he said as a candidate may not have been informed by the legal advice that he now has that it would be appropriate for him to ask a nominee how he or she would rule on a specific issue.”
Tapper pressed: “There are plenty of justices that the Federalist Society and other experts likely think will vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade but don’t have a record of hostility towards Roe vs. Wade.”
“For instance, don’t you think, just as an academic matter, Neil Gorsuch, for whom you voted, don’t you think he’s probably going to vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade if given the chance?”
“I actually don’t,” Collins said.
“I had a very long discussion with Justice Gorsuch in my office and he pointed out to me that he is a co-author of a whole book on precedent,” she said. “So 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.”
Collins said that in her recent meeting with Trump, she “encouraged the President to broaden his list beyond the list of 25 nominees that has been public for some time.” She said she wasn’t comfortable with everyone on the list, and that there were names on it that she had not vetted.
Leonard Leo — the anti-abortion Federalist Society executive vice president currently on leave to advise the President on Supreme Court nominees, and the originator of Trump’s campaign-era list of potential nominees — has been careful to note that names on the list have not taken a public stance on abortion.
“None of the people who are being talked about now in the public space in the media are people who have a clear position on Roe v. Wade,” he said, as quoted by the Washington Free Beacon.
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