This week’s big story on Capitol Hill was Senator Susan Collins’s (R-ME) statement that Judge Brett Kavanaugh had told her in their meeting that Roe v. Wade was “settled law.” Counterintuitively, many see this statement as a signal that Collins has concluded that she can’t vote against Kavanaugh and must put things in the best light possible. Things are beginning to fly thick and fast now, as Judge Kavanaugh has met with a handful of Senate Democrats to decidedly mixed reviews. Claire McCaskill of Missouri met with Judge Kavanaugh this week and notably said nothing in her statement about whether Roe or abortion had been discussed. Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) also met with Kavanaugh and made no bones about his view that the onus was on Kavanaugh to affirm his support for abortion rights in order to garner his vote. “I asked him if he agreed that Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood [sic] were correctly decided,” Schumer told reporters. “He would not say yes. That should send shivers down the spine of any American who believes in reproductive freedom for women.”
Others were more noncommittal, perhaps once again signaling the difficulty Democratic senators have in walking the Kavanaugh line. Sherrod Brown of Ohio announced his indecision after his meeting with Judge Kavanaugh, and Amy Klobucar of Minnesota also played her cards close to her vest. On the far end of the Democratic aisle, Kamala Harris of California stated her opposition in no uncertain terms, of course.
After controversy over the Russia investigation was renewed later in the week by the conviction of the president’s former campaign manager and guilty plea of his personal attorney, Democratic Senators Edward Markey (MA) and Mazie Hirono (HI) reportedly canceled scheduled meetings with Kavanaugh.
Next week should conclude private meetings with senators, as the nominee begins to prepare in earnest for his public debut before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 4th.