Thousands of documents deemed “committee confidential” were released by Democrats in violation of Senate rules on Thursday. These documents, meant to only be seen by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, prove unequivocally that Brett Kavanaugh would endanger Roe v. Wade.
In emails written while Brett Kavanaugh worked for the George W. Bush administration, he wrote, “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so.”
The New York Times, which obtained these emails, supposed the three judges Kavanaugh cited were then-Justices William Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia, along with Justice Clarence Thomas.
But when he says Roe is not the settled law of the land, he runs in direct opposition to what Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) believed he thought. In a private meeting, Kavanaugh assured Collins that he believed Roe was settled precedent in agreement with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
Of course, the makeup of the Court is different today, but it isn’t necessarily more pro-Roe than it was. Substantively, very little has changed as it pertains to the ability of the Court to overturn its ruling in the case, so it seems unlikely that Kavanaugh’s initial logic no longer holds true. He has largely dodged the question during his confirmation.
Sen. Collins said she would oppose any candidate that demonstrated hostility toward Roe. Kavanaugh outright stating that the Roe not be considered established law by the Supreme Court is, if not overtly hostile, the jurisprudence equivalent of suggestively saying it would be a shame if something were to happen to it.
Collins is a crucial vote in such a narrow confirmation battle, and the confirmation battle is crucial to Collins, meaning the stakes for her are extraordinarily high.
More than $300,000 has been pledged to a future opponent of Collins if she votes in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Collins also presently boasts a 72 percent rating on Planned Parenthood’s legislative scorecard. She’s been a champion of reproductive rights and wishes her party was the party of pro-choice ideology.
For her to vote in favor of Kavanaugh — who has now directly questioned the legitimacy of Roe v. Wade as the settled law of the land — and whose reasons for questioning that legitimacy have not substantively changed, therefore misleading Collins either intentionally or unintentionally to secure her vote, would jeopardize her own station as a Senator.
Based on her own litmus test for a Supreme Court candidate, Susan Collins should logically oppose the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, leaving his chances of confirmation on a razor’s edge. And every Senator, including Collins if she were to vote to confirm Kavanaugh, could be held responsible by their constituents for endangering and potentially ending Roe.
The idea that Roe would be overturned in a court with Kavanaugh on the bench was once dismissed as “hysterical and overstated.” However, that idea is now one of the most stark and direct implications of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
This leaves Susan Collins to make a choice: will she vote as she pledged, as her ideology dictates she would or will she put party before principle and confirm Kavanaugh?
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.