WASHINGTON — Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican, suggested on Tuesday she felt misled by two of the conservative justices who signed onto the leaked draft opinion eliminating the Constitutional right to an abortion as she faced renewed scrutiny for her votes for them on Tuesday.
Collins, who supports abortion rights, attracted heat on the left for voting to confirm Donald Trump appointees Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in recent years, after saying she felt confident from their discussions and public statements they would not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the precedent that protects the right to an abortion.
Leaving the Senate floor at a brisk pace, Collins fielded questions from reporters as she waited for an elevator to arrive.
In the brief interview, she stuck closely to the wording of the brief statement she released Tuesday morning, reiterating that the draft opinion published by Politico “was completely inconsistent with my discussions with both Justices [Kavanaugh and Gorsuch].”
When The Globe pressed the senator if she felt misled by the justices, she responded: “I said that in my statement,” adding, “Does anyone read the statements?” (Collins’ statement does not use the term misled.) Meanwhile, an aide stood between the elevator doors, urging her to move onto her next commitment.
Collins also said she believes Supreme Court confirmation hearings still serve a vital purpose, even if they did not help her divine Kavanaugh and Gorsuch’s true intentions.
“While there are certainly examples of people throughout the ages who have misled Congress during confirmation hearings,” Collins said, “generally they are very useful in allowing members to flesh out nominees’ views.”
Collins’ response has been more guarded than her colleague Senator Lisa Murkowski, another moderate Republican who supports abortion rights and said she was confident Gorsuch would not rule to overturn Roe. (She did not vote for Kavanaugh.)
“My confidence in the court has been rocked,” she told reporters.
Her Democratic opponent sought to make Collins’ Kavanaugh vote a key issue in her 2020 reelection bid in Maine. Collins won the race handily.
Earlier on Tuesday, Collins said she believes Democrats’ bill to protect the right to abortion via a federal law is a “non starter” that will not pass, and offered her own more “tailored” bill with Murkowski that accomplishes a similar goal as an alternative.
Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will bring the Democratic version up for a vote, although he does not appear to have the votes to pass it.