Sen. Susan Collins paid a huge political price and was severely berated in your newspaper for her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. I was disappointed with her at first, but as I learned more about Kavanaugh, I realized that Collins’ vote could be worthy of a chapter in JFK’s book “Profiles in Courage.”

If Kavanaugh had not been confirmed, then President Trump’s next nominee would have been considered by the new Senate, which is more conservative. Three moderate Republican senators – John McCain, Jeff Flake and Bob Corker – are gone, and five pro-Trump conservatives have been added.

During his first months on the high court, Kavanaugh has sided with the progressive justices and Chief Justice John Roberts on matters pertaining to Planned Parenthood payments, the census and climate change. He voted with the conservatives on one case but wrote his own nuanced decision; however, Roberts cast the deciding vote with the four progressives. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented in all four cases.

Trump has had two openings on the court to fill and could have another one over the next 22 months. If Kavanaugh had not been confirmed, then a staunch conservative could have taken his place. In this scenario, if a third seat became open and were filled by another staunch conservative, that would make a bloc of five and give conservatives absolute control of the court for five to 10 years. That would be the progressives’ worst nightmare, since abortion, gay rights and other cases would surely be appealed to the court by the conservatives.

I truly believe that Sen. Collins is responsible for avoiding a conservative court. Trump needed her or Lisa Murkowski’s vote to get to 50, so he nominated a relative moderate, and without Collins’ “yes” vote, we could have had a more conservative justice instead of Kavanaugh.

Gilbert Stuart


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