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Amid Renewed Criticism, Collins Defends Kavanaugh Vote, Says She Thinks She Will Be Reelected

Alex Brandon
AP File
In October 2018, Collins arrived on Capitol Hill to view the FBI report on sexual misconduct allegations against then nominee Kavanaugh.

In the wake of this week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on an abortion case, Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins has come under renewed attack for her vote to confirm U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh two years ago. Collins continues to defend her support of Kavanaugh, and she says she believes that she will be reelected in November.

The latest barrage aimed at Collins comes in the wake of the5-4 decision of the courtthat struck down a Louisiana law restricting abortion. The law required abortion providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges, but critics, including national abortion rights groups, say it was designed to shut down clinics and make it more difficult for individuals to get an abortion. Collins says Kavanaugh’s dissenting vote has been misinterpreted by her political opponents.

“My opponents have tried to suggest that this opinion is an indication of how certain justices would vote on the question of overturning Roe v. Wade,” says Collins.

Collins says she remains convinced that Roe v. Wade will stand as what she calls “settled law.”

But Nicole Clegg, of the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund, an advocacy group, says Monday’s narrow court ruling represents a close call for the rights of women in the United States.

“If Justice Kavanaugh had had his way, this law would have gone into effect, access to abortion would have been dramatically restricted in the state of Louisiana, and it would have opened the door for other states to do the same thing,” says Clegg.

Clegg says that polling has shown strong support for a woman’s right to choose, and that voters understand that the courts could undermine that right. She says Collins should be fully aware that her confirmation votes for anti-choice judges are a major reason that her popularity has slipped with Maine voters.

“Mainers have been paying a whole lot of attention to the Supreme Court and the process of nominating and confirming judges,” Clegg says. “The amount of outpouring that happened during the confirmation process for Kavanaugh was just unprecedented.”

The Senator acknowledges that polls do show that her popularity has declined, but she says that is to be expected given the money that is being put behind the national democratic party’s effort to take control of the senate.

“Dark money allies of Sara Gideon have spent more than $20 million defaming my good name, attacking my integrity and distorting and outright lying about my record,” she says.

Gideon still has to win a three-way primary in July for the Democratic nomination, but is a well-financed front runner in that contest.

Collins says she believes Maine voters will see through all of the negative ads and reelect her in the fall.

Correction: A previous version of this story said that Nicole Clegg was with Maine Family Planning, which provides reproductive services. Clegg is with the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund, an advocacy group.

Originally posted 4:28 p.m. July 1, 2020.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.