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Susan Collins says Senate should not vote on next Supreme Court justice until after election

Senator Susan Collins.Anna Moneymaker/NYT

Republican Sen. Susan Collins said Saturday there should be no vote on a successor to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg until after the election.

Collins said in a statement that she doesn’t object to President Donald Trump making a nomination to fill the vacancy or for the Senate Judiciary to begin vetting the nominee. But she said any vote by the full Senate should come after the election.

“In fairness to the American people, who will either be reelecting the president or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the president who is elected on Nov. 3,” she said.


Collins, who has a reputation as a moderate, represents a key vote.

It would take only a handful of GOP senators to block Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said he intends to call for a speedy vote on Trump’s nominee.

Collins, who’s in a tough reelection battle as she seeks a fifth term in office, angered many in Maine with her vote for Trump’s nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. And she was already getting pressure from various groups to delay the nomination of Ginsburg’s replacement.

In her statement, Collins talked about acting “fairly and consistently — no matter which party is in power.” In 2016, McConnell blocked then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland in an election year.

Both independent Sen. Angus King and Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine agree there should be no successor until after the election. U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, didn’t take a position in a statement issued Saturday.

Ginsburg died Friday at her home in Washington. She was 87.

Collins said Friday that she got to know Ginsburg when women serving in the Senate had dinner several times with Ginsburg and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.


“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a trailblazer for women’s rights, a fierce champion for equality and an extremely accomplished American who broke countless barriers in the field of law. Throughout her life, Justice Ginsburg surmounted discrimination and sexism through her brilliance, tenacity and wit, becoming one of the most prominent legal luminaries of our time,” Collins said.

Other Maine leaders had praise for her, as well.

“She was always a reliable voice for the downtrodden and disenfranchised and that’s why her passing feels so devastating to so many Americans,” Pingree said.

“Her unparalleled mind, her unbending backbone and her unfailing determination were formidable, making her not only one of the nation’s foremost legal minds but also a cultural icon who inspired countless young Americans to fight for their beliefs,” King said.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said she met Ginsburg when she was attorney general.

“She was a gracious, tenacious person with great intellect who was devoted to the integrity of the Court and to the rule of law as it applies to every person in our country. She was one of the greatest Americans ever,” Mills said.