Speed Reads

the kavanaugh factor

Brett Kavanaugh agrees Roe v. Wade is settled law, Sen. Susan Collins says

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has kept mum on whether she'll vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. But what Kavanaugh said during their meeting Tuesday could be the biggest indicator of which way she's headed.

After the nominee and the senator spent more than two hours meeting, Collins told reporters that Kavanaugh agrees with Chief Justice John Roberts, who once said the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade is settled law. Collins proceeded to call the meeting "an excellent session," per NPR. Kavanaugh's assurance could be a deciding factor for Collins, a pro-choice Republican thought to be a key swing vote in confirming President Trump's pick for the court.

Kavanaugh needs 50 Senate votes to earn a spot on the Supreme Court. But with just 51 Republicans in the Senate, Collins and fellow pro-choice Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) could spell the nominee's demise. Activists worried the conservative Kavanaugh would move to strike down abortion rights and lobbied Collins and Murkowski to oppose his confirmation alongside pro-choice Democrats.

But Kavanaugh has never publicly discussed or made legal decisions in abortion rights cases. Collins, who said she wouldn't support an anti-Roe nominee, promised a "thorough vetting" of Trump's pick in a July 9 statement, and on Tuesday she said she asked Kavanaugh if he considers Roe to be settled law. Kavanaugh responded that he agreed with Roberts, per Collins; in his 2005 confirmation, now-Chief Justice Roberts said Roe was "settled as a precedent of the court," per The Washington Post.