Susan Collins Pretends To Be Stupid, Again


Susan Collins, the Republican senator from Maine, was the last, best hope for keeping Brett Kavanaugh's pasty ass off the Supreme Court. The Republicans have a razor-thin majority, and if Two-Cluck Chuck Schumer prevented any Democrat defections (a tough battle with red state Dems wavering), all we'd need was one so-called "pro-choice Republican" to prevent a known anti-choice judge from helping overturn Roe v. Wade.

Unlike Lisa Murkowski, who represents the land of moose and dangerous catches, Collins is from Maine. Voting "no" on Federalist Society poster boy Kavanaugh isn't a tough sell to her constituents. Although Collins never came out and said she'd oppose Kavanaugh, she did claim on national TV and all that she couldn't support a nominee who was "hostile to abortion rights," which sapient individuals would conclude Kavanaugh is because of words he's said with other people around. (I often boast that I'm a "love machine" but only in the privacy of my shower so that won't hold up in court.) Also, Trump promised to nominate pro-forced-birth judges. He's a liar, sure, but it's safe to take him at his word on this one.

So, Sue is on our side, right? Wrong. If you believe that, you're as naive and gullible as Collins only pretends to be so she can keep getting elected in a blue state.

Look closely and you'll see the "Yes for Brett!" T-shirt she's wearing underneath her blazer. That's how bad things look for us. If you had trouble following Collins with all the backpedaling she was doing, she's basically staking American women's reproductive freedom on Kavanaugh's clever invocation of Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts described Roe at his own confirmation hearings as "settled law," but Dylan Scott wrote a piece back in July about "pro-choice crusader" Roberts that Collins might want to read before buying Kavanaugh's free-range magic beans.

Though all justices try to give a politically palatable version of their answer, Roberts was remarkably difficult to pin down on abortion rights during his Senate confirmation hearings. "There's nothing in my personal views based on faith or other sources that would prevent me from applying the precedents of the Court faithfully," he told the senators back in 2005.

To understand what he thinks, we have to look back further: As a federal attorney in Republican administrations, Roberts helped craft briefs that said Roe had been wrongly decided and should be overturned. While the chief justice is widely said to be deferential to existing precedents — that was the crux of his statements on Roe before the Senate — he has also in his opinions helped to roll back existing case law.

Lastly, Roberts is said to be mindful of the Court's institutional reputation. That may be one reason for the chief justice to avoid overturning Roe all at once. But he should have plenty of opportunities to chip away at abortion rights until there is little left, a playbook that he's very recently deployed on other high-stakes issues.

The guy who helped gut the Voting Rights Act, which arguably is in large part why we have President Yam Treason, will probably be down with reducing Roe to a shell of its former self. Collins does understand that Anthony Kennedy, who Kavanaugh hopes to replace, was the Supreme Court's "swing vote" -- not reliably conservative Roberts? So, it's an obvious concern that Kavanaugh doesn't reference Kennedy when discussing abortion rights. Does Collins think we're going to go in with her on Kavanaugh's exciting "magic bean" investment opportunity?

A Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday showed that 49 percent of Maine did not think Collins should vote to confirm Kavanaugh, and it's 53 percent if Kavanaugh helps overturn Roe. I imagine that Tuesday's meeting with Kavanaugh was designed to give Collins cover: She listened to her constituents and asked the tough questions of Kavanaugh and is now "assured" that he's not going to touch Roe. That's all BS, but Collins isn't defending her seat until 2020, so she's got some time to improve her current 35 percent approval rating. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell isn't Schumer, and the Supreme Court isn't the skinny health care repeal. He'll cut Collins off at her ankles if she doesn't fall in line behind Kavanaugh. She could face a primary challenge and see her campaign contributions dry up. She's afraid, and she's hoping we'll her off the hook.

There have been 1,193 restrictions to abortion in the 45 years since Roe became law, and anti-choice group Americans United For Unborn Life has in just the past seven years worked to help pass a third of them. Like Collins, they were also reassured by Kavanaugh's jive, but they actually have reason to be.

There's still time to call Collins and push for her to vote "no" on Kavanaugh. Even if you don't live in Maine, which is a pity especially this time of year, pick up the phone, shoot an email, and most importantly, don't forget what happens when 2020 comes around.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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