Republicans were excited last week when Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, setting the stage for President Trump to nominate yet another conservative to the nation’s highest court. Depending on who Trump selects, we could have a much more reliable, constitutionally-faithful judge on the Supreme Court than Kennedy, whose swing-vote status often took him into strange and unsound territory. He certainly wasn’t an activist of the sort that populates the left side of the court, but he was a little too willing to abandon sound legal ground to join them on issues as important as gay marriage and abortion rights. If the president limits his options to those he has already promised to choose from, we’re almost certain to get someone more suitable for the court than Kennedy.
That is, if they can get confirmed in the Senate.
There really shouldn’t be much question about that happening. Republicans have an ultra-slim majority in the Senate, but there’s no reason that shouldn’t be enough. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already done away with the Democrats’ ability to filibuster the nominee, so all we need now is someone with a good resume and some solid constitutional credentials and we’re good to go. No reason at all why any Republican should vote against this individual.
Unless, of course, that Republican is a liberal in sheep’s clothing and calls herself Susan Collins.
The RINO from Maine (and her cohort Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) has been under considerable pressure this week from Democrats who want to draft her to their side. If she flips, we’re finished. And though she has indicated that she wants to vote for a nominee, she hasn’t exactly filled us with confidence when it comes to who or what she’s willing to vote for.
On the talk show circuit on Sunday, Collins seemed all too aware of her sudden position of power. And she had a lot to say about judicial precedent, its importance, and her desire to see Roe v. Wade remain the law of the land.
“I had a very long discussion with Justice Gorsuch in my office and he pointed out to me that he was the co-author of a whole book on precedent,” Collins said on CNN. “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.”
She said that she did not believe, in that light, that Gorsuch would vote to overturn the historic decision on abortion.
On ABC, she went further, saying that there were people on President Trump’s shortlist of nominees that she would not be able to vote for.
“There are people on that list whom I could not support because I believe that they have demonstrated a disrespect for the vital principal of stare decisis, which as Chief Justice Roberts has said is a fundamental principle of our judicial system that promotes evenhandedness and stability,” Collins said.
And then, just in case there was anyone still wondering why she was suddenly so interested in respecting prior decisions of the Court, she cleared it up.
“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,” she said.
Collins holds the cards here, and she knows it. She’s already betrayed Republicans a time or two since President Trump was elected, preventing them from fully implementing his agenda in the way the American people want. Will she pull off one last stunning betrayal before the year is out?
We don’t want to believe it, but…she definitely out there testing the waters. We’ll see.