After months of characterizing constituent contact as sluggish on the issue of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Sen. Susan Collins recently acknowledged that she has, in fact, been hearing from us.

Unfortunately, she chose to highlight only the calls by some bad actors, leaving the impression that vile messages are the norm. The truth, according to a staffer at one of Collins’ offices in Maine, is that the majority of calls from constituents opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination have been civil.

The messages aired on Tuesday’s TV news broadcast were disgusting and indefensible. We, too, were appalled. But we are also frustrated.

In recent weeks, Maine newspapers have published scores of letters to the editor opposing Kavanaugh. Hundreds of Mainers have visited Collins’ district offices, shared detailed case reports with her legislative staff and flown to D.C. to meet with her personally. Thousands have called, emailed and attended peaceful protests. Constituent groups have bought full-page ads in newspapers, and rallied to hand-deliver hundreds of personal letters to her D.C. office. To make these herculean efforts and be told we’re not being heard is infuriating and insulting.

Collins’ recent statements imply that the only people she’s hearing from are those who threaten interns over the phone. That’s not us. And that’s not representative of who’s calling, writing and showing up.

The Kavanaugh nomination will come to an end soon, one way or the other. But there will be other nominations and other bills, policies and actions that constituents will want to weigh in on. Sen. Collins should lay the groundwork now to encourage a positive tenor for those future conversations. Stop holding up the bad apples and instead hold up the good ones. Doing that won’t win the support of people who disagree with her votes. But it might win their respect.

Kelli Whitlock Burton


Karin Leuthy


co-leaders, Suit Up Maine