Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has been playing a ridiculously transparent game, faced with a second Supreme Court justice nominee from the occupier of the Oval Office, Donald Trump. She insists that she’s only being fair, that she’s not pre-judging a nominee (though we know Trump is picking off the Federalist Society list of nominees who have been selected for their extremism) and that she is going to oppose any nominee who “has demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade and has said that they are not going to abide by that long-standing precedent.” As if any far-right judge with Supreme Court ambitions would ever say out loud what they think about Roe and as if the last Trump nominee she voted for, Neil Gorsuch, hadn’t just voted with the majority of conservatives to overturn decades-old labor law.
She really isn’t fooling anyone with this game, and the paper of record in her home state of Maine, Portland Press Herald is making that clear. Here’s the subhead to their story in Sunday’s paper.
Maine’s Republican senator pins her support of a Supreme Court nominee on ‘settled law,’ but her reasoning withers under scrutiny.
They talk to legal scholars to provide that scrutiny. Lori Ringhand, associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Georgia School of Law says the “fact that something is one of the court’s precedents plainly does not and has not stopped the court from revisiting the issue. … Precedent doesn’t bind justices.” William Yeomans, a career Justice Department official, former Senate Judiciary Committee staffer and now Columbia Law School faculty, says “it should be taken for granted” that a Trump nominee would overturn Roe “unless he or she states explicitly otherwise,” because Trump has already promised that’s who he’s looking for in a nominee. “Adherence to precedent,” he says “has become the all-purpose escape for nominees and senators who want to avoid learning too much about a nominee’s views.”
Paul Schiff Berman, a law professor at George Washington University, says that the singular focus on Roe is missing the larger point because it won’t take overturning the law to end access to legal abortion—just willingness to uphold more and more stringent anti-abortion laws from the states. “So the assurance that a justice will adhere to precedent and not literally overturn Roe v. Wade is not really likely to answer the question as to the practical impact on women’s right to choose.”