In her speech announcing support for the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, Maine senator Susan Collins, who supports basic abortion rights, tried to rebut the widely held presumption that the nominee would represent the crucial fifth SCOTUS vote to reverse or curtail Roe v. Wade by citing examples of anti-abortion Republican presidents appointing justices that turned out to be pro-choice:
Opponents frequently cite then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to nominate only judges who would overturn Roe. The Republican platform for all presidential campaigns has included this pledge since at least 1980. During this time, Republican presidents have appointed Justices O’Connor, Souter, and Kennedy to the Supreme Court. These are the very three justices—Republican president appointed justices—who authored the Casey decision, which reaffirmed Roe. Furthermore, pro-choice groups vigorously opposed each of these justices’ nominations. Incredibly, they even circulated buttons with the slogan “Stop Souter Or Women Will Die!” Just two years later, Justice Souter co-authored the Casey opinion, reaffirming a woman’s right to choose. Suffice it to say, prominent advocacy organizations have been wrong.
Collins ignored the rather pertinent point that this history of betrayals of the anti-abortion cause by certain Republican-appointed justices is precisely why Donald Trump was forced to make his unprecedented, specific pledge about the reproductive-rights positions of future Supreme Court nominees. And it’s also why he agreed to another, and even more remarkable step: publishing before the election (indeed, before the Republican presidential nominating process had ended) a list from which he would choose the justice to replace Antonin Scalia, vetted by two intensely ideological groups, the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. Kavanaugh was added to the list via the same process after Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation, and attracted immediate support from orthodox members of the conservative legal Establishment, where Roe v. Wade is almost universally regarded as an abomination.
But any doubt as to whether Kavanaugh is an entirely different kind of justice from O’Connor, Kennedy or Souter should be dispelled by the excitement of full-time, professional anti-abortion advocates when he was confirmed. There was zero ambivalence about Kavanaugh in those circles, as this handy collection of quotes from LifeNews.com (headed up by a photo of the new justice with confetti flying) makes clear, beginning with this lead-in:
Leading pro-life groups are celebrating the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, after the Senate turned back a character assassination campaign spearheaded by pro-abortion Democrat senators and pro-abortion groups to attempt to derail the nomination.
It’s unanimous. Here’s the National Right to Life Committee:
“Today’s Senate vote is a victory for Judge Kavanaugh, and for the President, but also for the rule of law – it is a victory for all who believe that the federal courts should enforce the rights truly based on the text and history of the Constitution, and otherwise leave policy questions in the hands of elected legislators,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.
Here’s the president of the March for Life:
The Supreme Court plays a critical role in pro-life policy and has for decades. We look forward to Justice Kavanaugh’s tenure on the bench and the impact his dedicated public service will have towards creating a country where every human life is valued and protected equally under the law.
Here’s the president of the especially militant Susan B. Anthony List, which vets political candidates every single day:
Only one vulnerable incumbent, Joe Manchin, stood up to Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, and other pro-abortion party leaders while Joe Donnelly, Bill Nelson, Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, and Jon Tester caved under pressure. Anyone who thinks the voters will forget this profound betrayal is greatly mistaken. Since July of last year, SBA List’s field team has reached more than 2 million voters at their homes in key battleground states and will be on the ground every day through Election Day. A majority of voters in these states have told our canvassers they support Judge Kavanaugh.
Gee, wonder why those anti-abortion voters canvassers by a RLT group all supported Kavanaugh? Who’s more likely to be right? Those millions of voters, the organizations who represent them, the president who promised them to overturn Roe, the 49 other Republican senators voting for Kavanaugh who oppose abortion rights — or Susan Collins?
I’d say the odds are pretty clear.