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Sen. Susan Collins: Kavanaugh told me Roe v. Wade is 'settled law'

Confirming what anyone with half a brain already knew, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Tuesday that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh told her that he believes Roe v. Wade is "settled law."

“We talked about whether he considered Roe to be settled law. And he said that agreed with what Justice [John] Roberts said at his nomination hearing, at which he said that it was settled law,” Collins told reporters after meeting with Kavanaugh for almost two hours.

Collins, along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is pro-choice and was seen as a potential obstacle to Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation to the court. She believes that Roe has set a clear precedent and has previously said that any potential nominee to the Supreme Court must respect that precedent.

Kavanaugh has caused concern for progressives and pro-choice Republicans who believe he may be the fifth Supreme Court vote to overturn Roe. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired in June, was a notorious swing vote on the court who sided with progressives on the life issue. President Donald Trump promised to only nominate "pro-life" judges to the court to replace any vacancies.

While Supreme Court cases are generally "settled law" binding lower courts, the Supreme Court can overturn its own precedents. Kavanaugh can believe Roe is settled law while also believing that the case was wrongly decided and should be overturned, so his position is not necessarily defined.

Collins needs Kavanaugh's position to remain ambiguous. Polling shows that her constituency in Maine, a moderately liberal northeast state, wants her to reject Kavanaugh and would be less likely to support her for re-election if she votes to confirm him and Roe is overturned. If his position is unclear, Collins will have some cover to join the rest of the GOP majority in supporting Trump's nominee.

The Senate confirmation hearings for Kavanaugh's nomination will begin on September 4.

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