GOP Sen. Collins: Draft Roe v Wade Ruling 'Inconsistent' With Gorsuch, Kavanaugh Statements
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Getty Images)
By Charles Kim | Tuesday, 03 May 2022 12:41 PM
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Tuesday that the apparent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that would strike down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision allowing abortions in the nation goes against what Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch told her when they met with her prior to their confirmations.
"If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office," Collins said in a statement Tuesday about a draft opinion from the court published by Politico Monday night.
"Obviously, we won't know each justice's decision and reasoning until the Supreme Court officially announces its opinion in this case."
While interviewing former President Donald Trump's first court pick, Gorsuch, in 2018 before his Senate confirmation to the high court's bench, Collins said she would not support a Supreme Court nominee that would threaten the Roe decision.
"I would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade because that would mean to me that their judicial philosophy did not include a respect for established decisions, established law," Collins said in an interview on CNN in 2018.
"I actually don't [think Gorsuch would overturn Roe]," adding she'd had a "very long discussion with Justice Gorsuch in my office and he pointed out to me that he is a co-author of a whole book on precedent."
The rare leak, showing a February draft of the majority opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson's Women's Health Organization, which challenges a Mississippi state law banning abortions after 15 weeks when a fetal heartbeat is detected, overrules the 50-year-old Roe decision, and sends the authority on legal abortion back to the states to decide.
"Roe and Casey [a related 1992 case] must be overruled," Justice Samuel Alito writes in the draft decision published by Politico. "The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision."
Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the document Tuesday, but cautioned it is not a final ruling or decision.
"Although the document described in yesterday's reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case," Roberts said in a statement Tuesday. "To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed."
Roberts said he is launching an investigation into the leak.
Collins and fellow GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, introduced legislation in February to codify the Roe decision, called the Reproductive Choice Act, which would amend the Women's Health Protection Act of 2021, passed by the House along party lines 218-211 in September 2021.
"I support the abortion rights established by Roe v. Wade and affirmed by Planned Parenthood v. Casey," Collins said in a Feb. 28 press release announcing the proposed legislation. "Our legislation would enshrine these important protections into law without undercutting statutes that have been in place for decades and provide basic conscience protections that are relied upon by health care providers who have religious objections to performing abortions."
Collins and Murkowski said in the release the legislation passed by the House went "far beyond" what was necessary to codify abortion rights by superseding all other state and federal laws, including religious rights for those who object on religious grounds.
"I have always supported a woman's right to choose, the precedents established by Roe v. Wade, and the limitations the Supreme Court has placed on laws regarding abortion services. With the Supreme Court set to rule on an abortion-related case later this year, we should codify current protections into law so that women can be confident their reproductive freedoms will not be abruptly reduced or eliminated," Murkowski said in the release. "I have long supported a woman's right to choose, but my position is not without limits, and this partisan Women's Health Protection Act simply goes too far.
"It would broadly supersede state laws and infringe on Americans' religious freedoms. The fact that my choice is between this bill, or nothing at all, shows how insincere Majority Leader [Chuck] Schumer, D-N.Y., is about protecting women's rights. Failing to conduct any outreach and reducing this important issue to nothing more than a designed-to-fail show vote is a disservice to women across America."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.