Sen. Collins Hits Biden's 'Clumsy' Handling of SCOTUS Vacancy Pick Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing in 2021. (Bill O'Leary-Pool/Getty Images)
By Fran Beyer | Sunday, 30 January 2022 11:50 AM
President Joe Biden has been “clumsy” in his handling of filling an upcoming vacancy on the Supreme Court, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Sunday.
In an interview said on ABC News’ “This Week,” Collins said Biden’s announcement of his intent to nominate an African American woman to the high court has made the choice a political one.
“The way that the president has handled this nomination has been clumsy at best,” Collins complained. “It adds to the further perception that the court is a political institution like Congress when it is not supposed to be. I certainly am open to whomever he decides to nominate. My job as a Senator is to evaluate the qualifications of that person under the advice and consent role.”
Collins also defended her “no” vote for Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the wake of the death of former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020 as non-political.
“The reason I voted against Amy Coney Barrett was that her nomination and vacancy occurred too close to the election, the presidential election,” Collins said. “And Republicans, just in the Obama administration, had established a precedent that we were not going to confirm someone — it was Merrick Garland in that case — in an election year.”
The Senator also said she’s hoping for bipartisan Electoral College reform this year.
“This is not a small matter. This 1887 law governs the counting and the certification of the presidential vote,” she said. “And we saw, on Jan. 6th of 2021, how ambiguities, simple law, were exploited. We need to prevent that from happening again.”
“I have brought together a group of 16 Senators, it’s a bipartisan group” for the effort, she said.
“Together we have been having discussions, Zoom meetings,” she explained. “We'll resume them tomorrow. And I'm hopeful that we can come up with a bipartisan bill that will make very clear that the vice president's role is simply ministerial, that he has no ability to halt the count and that we'll raise the threshold from one House member, one Senator, for triggering a challenge to a vote count submitted by the states.”