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Republican Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Wednesday that she wants President Donald Trump to nominate a Supreme Court justice that respects precedent, adding that she believes Roe v. Wade is settled legal precedent.
“I view Roe v. Wade as being settled law. It’s clearly precedent and I always look for judges who respect precedent,” Collins told reporters on Wednesday when asked about possible picks to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement earlier in the day.
Many conservatives quickly jumped at the possibility that the high court could now impact the landmark case that ultimately established the right to abortion in 1973 now that Kennedy, who ruled in favor of abortion rights, is set to exit the bench and the president could nominate someone with strong pro-life values.
While Republicans control the Senate with a slim majority, both Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have voted in favor of protecting women's health issues in the past and could represent potential swing votes if Roe v. Wade has the potential to be challenged given Trump's Supreme Court nominee.
“[Kennedy's] retirement is a historic moment for the court because he was the swing vote in so many decisions of great consequence. I think he held the court together and did right by the Constitution,” Murkowski said in a statement following Kennedy's announcement.
My statement on Justice Kennedy announcing his retirement: pic.twitter.com/svr3dbWUi6
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) June 27, 2018
“My standards for Supreme Court nominees are extremely high,” she added. “It is my longstanding practice to carefully scrutinize the qualifications of judicial nominees and to cast an independent vote when judicial nominations come before the Senate.”
IJR talked with Democratic senators on Wednesday who said they are prepared to fight unless the president presents a nominee with broad bipartisan support. “They're gonna have a heck of a fight on their hands,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) warned Republicans if Trump doesn't pick a moderate.
"Merrick Garland is probably still available,” Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.) said when asked about Kennedy's potential replacement. “I'm still hung up on how shameful he was treated — held up for almost a year — I won't get over that soon.”