Sen. Susan Collins is 0-3 with her guy Brett Kavanaugh’s votes on the Supreme Court so far this session. Kavanaugh, who is on the Supreme Court because of Collins, has voted to kick Dreamers out of the country, let employers fire LGBTQ people solely on the basis of their sexual orientation, and now to take abortion rights away from Louisiana women. It’s that last one that must really sting for Collins, since she premised her entire support for the guy on the fact that he would respect precedent, especially when it came to abortion. Kavanaugh told her, she said that he believed “decisions become part of our legal framework with the passage of time, and that honoring precedent is essential to maintaining public confidence.” She also said he was the first nominee she had spoken with “to express the view that precedent is not merely a practice and tradition, but rooted in Article III of our Constitution itself.” Boy, does she look stupid now.
Because respecting precedent is precisely what he did not do in the minority in the Louisiana abortion case decided Monday. Just four years ago, the Supreme Court struck down an identical abortion law from Texas. The law required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, against all medical necessity, and the Supreme Court struck it down. The court shouldn’t have even heard the Louisiana case, since this issue had already been decided, but there was a difference this time around: the absence of Justice Anthony Kennedy, replaced by Kavanaugh.
The floor speech Collins made justifying her vote is chock full of these kinds of empty promises from Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh told her, she said, that the court need to uphold past decisions to create “stability, predictability, reliance, and fairness.” She said “When I asked him, would it be sufficient to overturn a long-established precedent if five current justices believed that it was wrongly decided, he emphatically said no.” He must have had his fingers crossed behind his back.
She went on CNN and reiterated all that. She told Dana Bash that Kavanaugh told her, “for a precedent, among established precedents like Roe, to be overturned, it would have to have been grievously wrong and deeply inconsistent. He noted that Roe had been reaffirmed 19 years later by Planned Parenthood vs. Casey and that it was precedent on precedent.” So much for abortion ruling precedents.
She might be right. Kavanaugh might not vote to overturn Roe. But he would vote to make abortion impossible to have in every state of the union, given the chance, leaving the completely gutted husk of Roe. That’s on Collins.