Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) appeared on Friday to accuse Supreme Court Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh of lying when the Senate was considering their Supreme Court nominations.
What did Collins say?
After the Supreme Court officially overturned abortion precedents in a 6-3 ruling on Friday, Collins released a statement saying Barrett and Kavanaugh voted in an “inconsistent” manner with what they promised during their confirmation hearings.
“This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents that the country has relied upon,” Collins said.
She added, “Throwing out a precedent overnight that the country has relied upon for half a century is not conservative. It is a sudden and radical jolt to the country that will lead to political chaos, anger, and a further loss of confidence in our government.”
But what did ACB and Kavanaugh say?
While it is impossible to know what each justice said behind closed doors, neither justice indicated during their Senate confirmation hearings that they would absolutely vote to uphold Roe v. Wade if the issue came before the Supreme Court.
Under questioning from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-N.Y.), Barrett said she does not consider Roe v. Wade a “super-precedent,” a scholarly legal term that describes “cases that are so well-settled that no political actors and no people seriously push for their overruling,” Barrett explained.
“And I’m answering a lot of question about Roe, which I think indicates that Roe doesn’t fall in that category,” she added.
Barrett stipulated that legal scholars “across the spectrum say that doesn’t mean that Roe should be overruled, but descriptively it does mean that it’s not a case that everyone has accepted.”
At his Senate confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh called Roe an “important precedent of the Supreme Court that has been reaffirmed many times,” but declined to say whether he believed it was “correct law.”
“This is the point that I want to make that I think is important. Planned Parenthood v. Casey reaffirmed Roe and did so by considering the stare decisis factors,” Kavanaugh then explained. “So Casey now becomes a precedent on precedent. It is not as if it is just a run-of-the-mill case that was decided and never been reconsidered, but Casey specifically reconsidered it, applied the stare decisis factors, and decided to reaffirm it. That makes Casey a precedent on precedent.”
During his private meeting with Collins, Kavanaugh allegedly told the Republican lawmaker that he believed Roe was “settled law.”
“We talked about whether he considered Roe to be settled law,” Collins said after the meeting. “He said that he agreed with what [Chief] Justice [John] Roberts said at his nomination hearing in which he said that it was settled law.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also expressed frustrations with Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch.
“I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans,” Manchin said in a statement.
However, just like his colleagues, Gorsuch did not say that he would uphold Roe if the matter came before the court. Gorsuch said “a good judge will consider [Roe] as precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other.”
“Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is a precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed. The reliance interest considerations are important there, and all of the other factors that go into analyzing precedent have to be considered,” Gorsuch explained.