Sen. Susan Collins, who is seen as one of the key swing votes to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee to take Justice Anthony Kennedy’s spot at the Supreme Court, went on the Sunday shows to send a clear message that she won’t support anyone who doesn’t show respect for precedent. Specifically, Collins said she would not support anyone who seemed to have a plan to overturn Roe v. Wade in order to end access to abortion across the country. “I would not support a nominee who demonstrated a hostility to Roe v. Wade,” Collins said on CNN’s State of the Union.
The senator from Maine echoed that message on an appearance on ABC’s This Week. “A candidate who would overturn Roe would not be acceptable,” she said, noting that it would demonstrate he or she would have “an activist agenda that I don’t want to see a judge have.” Although the senator made sure to note she would not ask a nominee how they would vote in future cases, what matters is the respect for decisions of the past. “A discussion of precedent, however, is very important,” Collins said. “What I want to see is a nominee who, regardless of his or her personal views on the very difficult and contentious life issue, is going to respect precedent, regardless.”
Collins said that she urged Trump personally to expand his list of nominees beyond his current list of 25 potential justices. “The president really was soliciting my views on the type of nominee that I was looking for,” Collins said. “I emphasized that I wanted a nominee who would respect precedent, a fundamental tenet of our judicial system.”
Collins also said Trump vowed that he would not ask any potential justices about their stance on Roe. That marks a shift from the campaign when Trump said views on Roe would be key to his selection of Supreme Court justices. “I think what he said as the candidate may not have been informed by the legal advice that he now has,” Collins said on CNN. “It would be inappropriate for him to ask a nominee how he or she would rule on a specific issue.”
Collins was hardly the only lawmaker to talk abortion rights on Sunday. Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, sent a message to her colleagues that if their vote ends up nixing abortion rights, it could be a “career-ending” move. “My colleagues on both sides of the aisle know that this vote could be one of the key votes of their entire career,” Cantwell said in on NBC’s Meet the Press. “If they vote for somebody who’s going to change precedent, it could be a career-ending move.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, said there was no need to overturn Roe v. Wade “unless there’s a good reason.”