Senator Susan Collinsa moderate Republican from Maine, made it clear over the weekend that she would not confirm a Supreme Court Justice nominee who displayed “hostility” toward Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that established abortion rights.

Sen. Susan Collins On Supreme Court Nominee

“A candidate for 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,” Collins said on ABC’s This Week. 

On CNN’s State of the Union, she added that an opposition to Roe “would mean to me their judicial philosophy did not include a respect for established decisions, established law.”

The future of Roe vs. Wade and women’s reproductive rights, particularly abortion, is uncertain in the wake of Justice Anthony Kennedy‘s retirement announcement last week. Kennedy was seen as the swing vote for cases pertaining to women’s rights, and the judge’s imminent exit from the nine-member Supreme Court means President Donald Trump will be able to pick his second Justice since he took office, after nominating hard-line conservative Neil Gorsuch in April 2017 to replace the late Antonin Scalia. The Republicans hold the majority in both houses, and the next Supreme Court judge could likley be chosen before November’s midterms, which means Democrats will need to hope that moderate conservative lawmakers like Collins help them oppose the confirmation of whomever Trump picks. Democrats also no longer have the filibuster option after it was abolished by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.


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The new justice is expected to help re-shape the court for decades to come and could very likely be “pro-life.” Trump said he’s considering two women among five top candidates for the role, and that he will announce Kennedy’s replacement on July 9. Shortly after Kennedy announced his retirement in a letter to Trump, CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin repeatedly said he believes Roe vs. Wade is essentially dead, and that abortion could be banned in several states within the next 18 months.

In addition to Collins, one other moderate Republican female senator has long supported abortion rights: Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Last year, Collins and Murkowski’s “no” votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act helped ensure that Barack Obama‘s defining healthcare bill remained the law of the land. Both women had staunchly opposed a provision in the GOP’s proposed replacement for the ACA that would have significantly reduced funding for Planned Parenthood.

Murkowksi has said a judicial nominee’s stance on Roe vs. Wade and abortion will play a role in her decision to confirm or oppose a pick, although it won’t be the only deciding factor for her. Trump told reporters he won’t be asking contenders what their views on abortion are as part of his selection process.

Brian Fallon, a veteran Democratic operative, said on Twitter Collins is confident Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts will end up siding with liberal judges on abortion rights.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, warned Collins and Murkowski of the possibility of Trump’s judicial nominee not upholding precedents despite promises to do so.

“Justice Gorsuch told her that he would respect precedent, and yet he has voted against precedent just this week with the Janus case,” Duckworth said on CNN. “If anything, this president, this administration is all about overturning precedents.”

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