Maine Sen. Susan Collins says the U.S. Supreme Court nomination process has become hyper political and could damage public confidence in the courts. Collins' comments come just a day after President Trump announced Federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee.
Collins says she has been amazed and upset by the intense politicization of the Kavanaugh nomination. She says that as soon as Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, she was bombarded by requests that she take an immediate position.
“There are people on both sides of the aisle who actually wanted me to take a position for or against the nominee before we even knew the identity of the nominee,” Collins says.
Collins says such polarization will only hurt the court’s credibility with the public. She reiterates her position that the right to an abortion is a bedrock consideration and an issue that she will discuss privately with Judge Kavanaugh.
“What I am seeking is a nominee who will respect long established precedents and who will demonstrate a fidelity to the rule of law and to the Constitution,” says Collins.
Collins says that while she respects the strongly held views by those who are urging her to vote for or against, she will make an independent judgement on the Kavanaugh nomination.
She also says she rejects the claim by some that her decision will be based on political concerns and on her re-election campaign two years from now. “People who are claiming that this vote will be a political vote for me are obviously distorting my record.”
Collins says she has voted against nominees for political appointments and lower court positions in the past. In 2005, she voted against the lifetime appointment of former Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. At the time, Collins said she worried about Pryor’s temperament and respect for the judicial system. Last year, she voted against the confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. She said she had concerns that Pruitt actively and sued the EPA on numerous issues of concern to Mainers. Both of those appointments were chosen by Republican presidents.
Collins says she will not make a decision on this nominee until after the Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings and she has had chance to meet privately with Kavanaugh and review his record on the federal bench.