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Susan Collins signals she doesn’t want to know if Trump’s SCOTUS pick would overturn Roe

She said she wouldn't back a judge who'd repeal abortion rights -- but doesn't actually want to know whether Brett Kavanaugh would.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) at a June White House luncheon.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) at a June White House luncheon. CREDIT: Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — a Republican who has positioned herself as a moderate but who has voted for virtually all of Donald Trump’s far-right judicial nominees — said last month that she would not back a Supreme Court nominee who “demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade,” the 1973 ruling that enshrined abortion rights. But it does not appear that she is very interested in finding out what Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh actually thinks about this and other matters.

Last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) rejected the requests of Senate Democrats to obtain all of the papers and emails from Kavanaugh’s tenure as the staff secretary to President George W. Bush as part of his effort to ram through the confirmation. On Tuesday, Collins told reporters that this lack of transparency was “eminently reasonable.”

“I met with Senator Grassley yesterday about the document request and, as he described it to me, it seems eminently reasonable,” she said, explaining that documents that mentioned the high-court nominee by name need not be public if Kavanaugh himself “did not play a role in creating” them.

Though she is not a member of the Judiciary Committee, as one of two ostensibly pro-choice Republicans, Collins’ vote could be pivotal in the narrowly divided Senate.

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Presidential records can be closed to the public, but Congress can request access to them. While it is hard to say what is in the records, they could we show what positions he took and whether he harbored views that were even more out of the mainstream than the ones he has already espoused.

Collins’ comments came as a new video shows Kavanaugh praising Roe v. Wade dissenter William Rehnquist for “stemming the general tide of freewheeling judicial creation of unenumerated rights that were not rooted in the nation’s history and tradition,” aside from on the question of abortion.

Though an occasional vote against Trump’s agenda and nominations, Collins has frequently disappointed progressives and moderates by siding with her party’s Senate leadership over her constituents. Last year, she gave pivotal support to tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations in exchange for a broken promise of a vote on her Obamacare stabilization proposals.