Yesterday was a bad day for President Trump, but a good day for his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. It was a good day because of his seemingly successful meeting with Sen. Susan Collins, whose vote he needs to be confirmed.
Kavanaugh’s one-on-one meeting with Sen. Collins lasted more than two hours. Afterwards, according to the Washington Post, the Maine Senator “appeared to be leaning toward backing” Kavanaugh.
Collins said Kavanaugh told her he agrees that Roe v. Wade is “settled as a precedent of the court.” Collins has made it clear she won’t back a nominee who “demonstrates hostility” to that decision. Judge Kavanaugh is not such a nominee.
It’s beyond dispute that Roe is settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court. It was decided 45 years ago and since has been reaffirmed. For better or for worse, it is embedded in the fabric of our society. Overturning it would be about as revolutionary as anything the Court might do.
This doesn’t mean Roe can’t be overturned, and I don’t read Kavanaugh’s statement to Collins as a promise he won’t vote to do so. It does mean, or should, that there is a strong presumption against overturning Roe.
I’ll conclude by injecting a note of caution regarding the Kavanaugh nomination. Though the prospects for confirmation are quite good, we shouldn’t completely discount the possibility that someone in the Republican caucus will balk for some flaky reason or another, the way Sen. Cory Gardner blocked Justice Department nominees for months over marijuana. If that happens, it might be difficult to find a Democrat who will replace the GOP dissident.
But I don’t believe the straight-shooting Sen. Collins will defect.