PORTLAND, Maine — The end of contentious confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has shifted the focus back to potential swing votes like Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
If Collins votes yes, then he is likely confirmed. She and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska probably would have to both vote “no” for Kavanaugh to be blocked.
In keeping with her deliberative approach, Collins has kept mum about how she’ll vote. Still, she’s sent signals that Kavanaugh cleared a hurdle by telling her that Roe v. Wade establishing abortion rights is settled law. A spokeswoman for Collins said Saturday that a recently released email from Kavanaugh — in which he disputed that all legal scholars see Roe as settled — didn’t contradict what he told the senator because he wasn’t expressing his personal views.
The pressure is intense.
Democrats argue that President Donald Trump picked Kavanaugh because he will vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision. Liberal groups are running TV ads encouraging the senator to reject the nomination.
People from across the country have mailed about 3,000 coat hangers to her office, symbolizing back-alley abortions that took place before they became legal.
And activists have pledged to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund an opponent to Collins if she votes in favor of the president’s nomination. She is up for re-election in 2020.
Collins, a centrist who fought the GOP effort to junk the Affordable Care Act, is used to being in the hot seat.
“I always wait until after the hearings are complete before making a decision, and I’ll do so in this case as well,” she told The Associated Press in an interview.