Opinion

Supreme Court hopes rests on a Republican not acting like a Republican

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Religious conservatives have stuck with President Donald Trump – despite the lies, the infidelity, the cruelty, the hate – and now they are close to the payback.

On Monday night, Trump announced that he is nominating US Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

And immediately landmark rulings that protect the right to abortion, that allow same-sex couples to marry and cases that seek to expand access to health care are at risk.

We don’t need a single congressional hearing or months of research to know that Kavanaugh is “hostile” to Roe v. Wade. The president has told us.

During his campaign in 2016, Trump and others involved in his campaign said that if elected, they would nominate justices for the Supreme Court who would reverse the 1973 ruling.

“I am pro-life, and I will be appointing pro-life judges,” Trump said during a televised debate in October 2016. Pushed by the moderator, Trump went further and made it clear that overturning Roe v. Wade would “happen automatically” because of the justices he would appoint.

As part of a MSNBC town hall, Trump upped the ante, saying that abortion should be banned and that women who get abortions should be punished.

And Vice President Mike Pence put it this way: “We’ll see Roe vs. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.”

In the coming months and weeks, there will be a great show on Capitol Hill and all across the country as Kavanaugh’s supporters argue that he has the right judicial temperament, that he’s well qualified and that it would be inappropriate to press him on his particular views on any potential case.

Kavanaugh has a long public record, as a judge, as a member of the President George W. Bush administration and as part of the Ken Starr’s team, a highly partisan affair that tried to bring down President Bill Clinton.

Kavanaugh will have a tough time explaining some of his rulings and writings. A couple jump out given the current investigation of the president’s campaign in regards to Russian meddling in the election.

In 2009, Kavanaugh wrote that he would propose providing “sitting presidents with a temporary deferral of civil suits and criminal prosecutions and investigations” because the distraction of the cases would interfere with the operations of the executive branch.

Kavanaugh has also written dissents in cases involving contraception, abortion and around the Affordable Care Act that would make his nomination a non-starter for Democrats.

But Democrats alone can’t stop Kavanaugh from joining the court, where he is likely to become on of its most conservative members. They need help.

Sen. Susan Collins is one of the targets. Collins supports abortion rights and said on ABC’s “This Week”: “A candidate for this important position who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me, because that would indicate an activist agenda that I don’t want to see a judge have.”

Her tone shifted a bit once Kavanaugh’s name was released.

“Judge Kavanaugh has impressive credentials and extensive experience, having served more than a decade on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Collins said in a prepared statement.

“I will conduct a careful, thorough vetting of the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court, as I have done with the five previous Supreme Court Justices whom I have considered.”

The Boston Globe did a deep dive into Collins’ voting record when it comes to the judiciary. The findings push back against the moderate image she has carefully curated throughout her career.
According to The Globe, 99 percent of the time, Collins has supported judges nominated by Republican presidents, including nominees who have, indeed, shown “hostility” toward Roe v. Wade.

But 99 percent isn’t 100 percent, and supporters of abortion rights, LGBT rights and the Affordable Care Act must – MUST – recognize that no matter how slight the chances, they have to raise their voices and let Maine’s senior senator know where they stand.

And activists aren’t alone.

A poll conducted last week and paid for by NARAL Pro-Choice America, shows that a large majority of Maine voters oppose overturning Roe.

Collins once again finds herself at the crossroads of history where what she really believes will be tested and where her decision will play heavily in her legacy. For those of us who support abortion rights, we are counting on a Republican US senator not acting like a Republican – again.

It’s an uncomfortable position, for sure. For us and, I suspect, for the senator.

David Farmer is a public affairs, political and media consultant in Portland, where he lives with his wife and two children. He was senior adviser to Democrat Mike Michaud’s 2014 campaign for governor.

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