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Collins Announces Support for Trump Supreme Court Nominee Gorsuch

J. Scott Applewhite
Associated Press/file
Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins meets with President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, on Capitol Hill in February.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins says she will vote to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch.

Speaking from the Senate floor Tuesday, Collins said she doesn't agree with all of Gorsuch's opinions, but believes he'll act independently and won't pre-judge controversial cases.

"In fact, Judge Gorsuch notably said that if someone had asked for such a commitment he would have left the room," Collins said.

Collins also criticized Democrats for threatening to filibuster Gorsuch's nomination. But she did not say definitively if she will support the co-called nuclear option to ensure Gorsuch's confirmation clears the Senate.

Under the current Senate rules, Gorsuch needs 60 votes to clear a procedural hurdle for high court confirmations in the Senate. Republicans only have 52 seats and Democrats are threatening to filibuster Gorsuch's confirmation. Republicans could vote to change the rules so a simple majority could confirm Gorsuch.

But doing so will require  scrapping a long-standing Senate process that forces the governing party to seek bipartisan support. The GOP needs at least 51 votes to do that and Collins could be a key vote.

Twelve years ago Collins was part of the so-called Gang of 14 that negotiated a deal to avoid using the nuclear option.

Collins said Tuesday that politicizing high court nominees could undercut public confidence in the judiciary.

"It erodes confidence in the fair and impartial system of justice and cultivates a suspicion that judges are imposing their personal ideology," she said.

Meanwhile, pressure on Collins is mounting to keep the Senate rules intact. Seventeen different groups have called on Collins, and independent Sen. Angus King, to reject Gorsuch. The groups include labor, environmental and civil liberties organizations.

Last week 49 Maine attorneys sent a letter to King and Collins urging them to support Gorsuch.