In the days and weeks ahead, one of the biggest questions that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will face is how he plans to rule if abortion rights are re-litigated before the high court.
On Tuesday, Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) met with Kavanaugh and revealed what the nominee told her about the issue.
What do we know about Kavanaugh's position on abortion?
Where exactly Kavanaugh stands on Roe v. Wade is a bit murky. However, we know:
- While being confirmed for a spot on the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia in 2006, Kavanaugh said he would respect stare decisis, meaning he would respect Supreme Court precedent, including on Roe v. Wade.
- But in 2017, Kavanaugh publicly applauded William Rehnquist's 1973 dissent in Roe v. Wade. Specifically, Kavanaugh agreed with Rehnquist's belief that the court should not establish new enumerated rights unless supported by "the traditions and conscience of our people."
- Also in 2017, Kavanaugh dissented when his court allowed a 17-year-old pregnant illegal immigrant to receive an abortion.
What did Collins say?
Following her "productive" meeting with Kavanaugh, Collins told reporters she and Kavanaugh discussed at "great length" the importance of court precedent and the role it plays in abortion rights. Then she revealed what Kavanaugh told her specifically about Roe v. Wade.
"We talked about whether he considered Roe to be settled law. He said that he agreed with what [Supreme Court Chief Justice John] Roberts said at his nomination hearing, at which he said that it was settled law," she said. "We had a good thorough discussion about that issue."
Collins' comments are significant because she's considered one of the top swing votes in Kavanaugh's confirmation. She's previously said she would not vote to confirm a justice who did not honor abortion precedent.
Collins did not offer additional clues as to how she will vote on Kavanaugh. She told reporters she will reserve judgment until after his hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"I’ve always waited until after the hearings. You never know what questions are going to come up at a Judiciary Committee hearing where 21 individuals will be questioning him," she said Tuesday.