February 21, 2020
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Rallies, ads won’t sway Collins on court nominee, aide says

J. Scott Applewhite | AP
J. Scott Applewhite | AP
In this Feb. 15, 2018 file photo, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, left, are shown during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington.

Escalating pressure on U.S. Sen. Susan Collins from both sides of the debate over President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee won’t rush her decision.

Collins will meet with nominee Brett Kavanaugh the week of Aug. 20 and withhold her decision until after the Senate’s Judiciary Committee interviews him beginning Sept. 4.

“She continues to study his voluminous record, particularly as a circuit court judge, but also as an associate White House counsel,” said Annie Clark, a Collins spokeswoman.

To date, the Judiciary Committee has received more than 175,000 documents from Kavanaugh’s stint as an attorney for Republican President George W. Bush, and thousands more are expected.

Collins, a pro-choice Republican who has sometimes opposed her party on key votes under Trump, has said she would have a hard time supporting a nominee who has shown “hostility” to the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, but that she would make her decision based on a range of issues.

“A candidate for this important position who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me,” Collins said during a television interview in June.

This weekend, groups both supporting and opposing Kavanaugh will try to ramp up the pressure on Collins. On Saturday, Students for Life of America and other pro-life activists will gather outside Collins’ Portland office. Abigail Young, the group’s regional coordinator, said Collins should appreciate the “unbiased” approach Kavanaugh takes to law.

“Kavanaugh’s record on free-speech and religious liberty show that he will be another great justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia,” Young said in a written statement.

Pro-choice activists are also gearing up. On Sunday, former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and others, including President Barack Obama’s former deputy chief of staff Alyssa Mastromonaco, will host a live event at Brick South in Portland. Part of a two-week, 10-city national “Rise up for Roe” tour, the event is designed to “rally women and allies and detail exactly what is at stake with the nomination,” according to a news release.

There is also national pressure. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund launched a major ad campaign Wednesday in Maine and Alaska, which is the home of Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who joins Collins as the only other Republican whose vote on Kavanaugh is uncertain.

Clark said national groups have little impact on Collins’ decision.

“Pressure campaigns from ideological, out-of-state groups funded by millions in ‘dark money’ will play no role in her decision-making,” Clark said in response to questions from the Bangor Daily News.

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