GOP Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has once again made it clear that she will not toe the party line when it comes to the upcoming nomination of a new Supreme Court justice, despite GOP leaders’ warnings to be careful in making such statements.
Collins hasn’t hesitated to go against the grain in highly contentious matters pertaining to Donald Trump, and the already contentious fight over whether or not Trump should be allowed to nominate a new justice appears to be no exception.
The Maine senator is well known for being a wild card, as she was seen as a swing vote in both the hotly-contested Brett Kavanaugh SCOTUS confirmation and Donald Trump’s impeachment.
Collins confirmed on Saturday that she will not support Donald Trump’s nomination of a justice to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s now vacant seat.
“In order for the American people to have faith in their elected officials, we must act fairly and consistently–no matter which political party is in power,” Collins wrote in a statement.
She continued: “President Trump has the constitutional authority to make a nomination to fill the Supreme court vacancy, and I would have no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s beginning the process for reviewing his nominee’s credentials. Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election.”
Collins explained that she believes that “in fairness to the American people,” the next Supreme Court justice should be chosen “by the president who is elected on November 3rd.”
Collins’ words echo those of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) justification for refusing to bring the outgoing President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to a vote in 2016.
Hanging in the balance
Donald Trump has made it clear that he will nominate a replacement for Ginsburg within the coming days, and McConnell has confirmed that he will bring the nomination to a Senate vote ahead of the November election.
However, the success of that vote likely hinges upon the several as-of-yet undecided moderate Republicans, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chuck Grassley (R-OH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Collins.
Murkowski said before Ginsburg’s death that she would not vote in favor of the confirmation of a new justice so close to the election, but has remained mum now that the hypothetical is now a reality.
Other Republicans seen as potential wildcards have not yet revealed their position on the inevitable vote, and McConnell warned his colleagues to be careful not to “lock yourselves into a position you may later regret” as many undecided senators come under “tremendous pressure from the press to announce how we will handle the coming nomination.”