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Susan Collins just proved she’s the most willfully ignorant person in the Senate

Golly gee, I just have no idea why this thing I voted for is happening!

UNITED STATES - MAY 14: Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, arrives for the Republican Senate Policy Luncheon in the Capitol on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MAY 14: Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, arrives for the Republican Senate Policy Luncheon in the Capitol on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sometimes, an elected official says something so utterly ignorant that it causes you to doubt that they are speaking in good faith. After all, a person who is smart enough to win four U.S. Senate elections couldn’t possibly be this stupid, right?

As Collins seems to understand in her statement to WPFO — Portland, Maine’s, local Fox station — the abortion restriction passed by the Alabama state legislature and signed into law by that state’s Republican governor, Kay Ivey, is among the most draconian of recent vintage. It would make the performing of almost any type of abortion procedure a felony offense, with no exceptions for rape or incest. (It will remain legal to perform an abortion to save the life of a pregnant patient.)

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Let’s be perfectly clear. The reason why many states, including Alabama, passed draconian anti-abortion laws is because there are now five votes on the Supreme Court who oppose Roe v. Wade. Before Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement in 2018, state lawmakers who wanted to pass outright abortion bans refrained from doing so because it was futile to enact a law that the Supreme Court would strike down. Now, such laws help force the Supreme Court to take a case that will nuke abortion rights.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who joined the Senate in 1997, voted for four of the five members of the Supreme Court who oppose these rights — the only one she didn’t vote for is Justice Clarence Thomas, who joined the court in 1991.

It would be one thing if Collins had spoken openly and honestly about her votes for Trump nominees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, but the Maine senator spent much of the last two years refusing to acknowledge any of the evidence that both men are staunch opponents of abortion rights.

Shortly after Kennedy’s retirement, Collins gave a moment of hope to Team Choice by claiming that a Supreme Court nominee “who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me.” She quickly revealed that she was not serious.

As I wrote at the time, Gorsuch’s record was gravid with anti-abortion dog whistles even before he started reliably casting anti-abortion votes on the Supreme Court.

Gorsuch wrote a book which, while ostensibly about euthanasia, is loaded down with the rhetoric of the anti-abortion movement. Does anyone think that when the staunch social conservative wrote that “the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong” that he wasn’t thinking about abortion?

Or, for that matter, does anyone think that when Gorsuch engaged in procedural gymnastics in a failed effort to defund Planned Parenthood that he was doing so out of some purely legalistic concern?

Kavanaugh’s record, meanwhile, was even clearer than Gorsuch’s. During his confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh told Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) that he believes that judges should follow “the Glucksberg test” when weighing whether rights that are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution are nonetheless protected. “Glucksberg” is a reference to the Supreme Court’s decision in Washington v. Glucksberga 1997 Supreme Court decision holding that the Constitution does not protect a right to physician-assisted suicide.

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The judge’s statement to Cruz is significant because, in a 2017 speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Kavanaugh claimed that “even a first-year law student could tell you that the Glucksberg’s approach to unenumerated rights was not consistent with the approach of the abortion cases such as Roe vs. Wade in 1973, as well as the 1992 decision reaffirming Roe, known as Planned Parenthood vs. Casey.”

So there it is. Kavanaugh said, about as explicitly as any Supreme Court nominee ever has, that he opposes Roe v. Wade. He embraced a particular method of reading the Constitution, and stated unambiguously that this method does not allow for Roe or Casey.

Nevertheless, we can expect Collins to act very surprised when Gorsuch and Kavanaugh join a majority opinion gutting abortion rights — most likely as soon as next June.