Maine Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is a key vote in the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. As she continues to weigh her position on whether to support him, Collins is under close scrutiny, and has been subject to a lot of outside pressure — some of which she says have gone too far.
While U.S. senators are always being lobbied hard by colleagues, special interests and constituents, Collins says efforts by groups and individuals who are opposed to Kavanaugh’s nomination have at times crossed the line of common decency. In recordings of voicemails provided by her office, callers spew profanities and threats.
Collins says one of the many voicemails stands out.
“When I have a caller who tells a young staffer in my office who does case work that he hopes she is raped and impregnated, we have really reached a new low,” she says.
Collins says constituents have every right to try to persuade her how to vote on any issue. She says she has met with both supporters and opponents of Judge Kavanaugh and discussed the nomination. But she says she will not be swayed by threatening phone calls or by a crowdfunding effort that says it has raised over $1 million for whoever happens to be her opponent two years from now.
“The people of Maine know me well enough that that’s not ever how I would make a decision and I am deeply offended by this effort,” she says.
Nor, says Collins, will her decision be affected by that of Maine independent U.S. Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats. Collins insists that she has not decided how she will vote and in fact has more questions for Kavanaugh in the wake of his confirmation hearing.
“I have a telephone call set up with the judge to follow up on a few items that came up in the hearing,” she says.
In addition to her staff researchers and her own reviews of documents and testimony, Collins says she has assembled a team of 19 lawyers, mostly from the Congressional Research Services.
“I am wrapping up but obviously I am not going to, I have no artificial deadline to adhere to,” she says.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is planning to vote on the nomination next week, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he wants the full Senate to vote soon after.