Sen. Susan Collins was the sole Republican to vote against Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court as her party pushed the appointment through just over a week before Election Day.

Collins, who is in a competitive battle to retain her Senate seat, did not deliver live remarks on Barrett’s nomination but submitted a statement to the congressional record Sunday in which she said she opposed a nomination so close to Election Day and had not reached a conclusion on the nominee’s qualifications. Her decision was not a surprise, as Collins had previously announced how she planned to vote.

In her statement, Collins said to confirm a Supreme Court justice so close to Election Day would break with the precedent set in 2016 when the Senate delayed confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.

“Prior to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, I stated that, should a vacancy on the Supreme Court arise, the Senate should follow the precedent set four years ago and not vote on a nominee prior to the presidential election,” she said. “Since her passing, I have reiterated that in fairness to the American people – who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one – the decision on the nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy should be made by whoever is elected on November 3rd.”

Collins also said she has not reached a conclusion on whether Barrett is qualified. “To be clear, my vote does not reflect any conclusion that I have reached about Judge Barrett’s qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court,” she said. “What I have concentrated on is being fair and consistent, and I do not think it is fair nor consistent to have a Senate confirmation vote prior to the election.”

Collins is currently in a tight re-election battle with Democrat Sara Gideon, who serves as speaker of the Maine House of Representatives. In a statement Monday, Gideon said she agreed the vacancy should have been filled by the next president and Senate, and criticized Barrett, saying she has stated views that threaten Mainers’ reproductive rights and health care.


She also pointed to Collins’ 2017 vote to confirm Barrett to her current position as a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. That vote also fell largely along party lines with just three Democrats joining Republicans to approve the nomination.

“Make no mistake – Susan Collins’ vote tonight was nothing more than a political calculation,” Gideon said.

Annie Clark, communications director for Collins’ campaign, said the senator had flown out of Washington after the vote and would not be available for an interview.

“Speaker Sara Gideon made a craven political calculation seven months ago when she shut down the Legislature to focus on her campaign,” Clark said in a statement. “Since then, instead of doing her current job as Maine’s speaker of the House, she’s woken up every day telling herself that her most important job is defeating and replacing Susan Collins.

“The fact is, as New York Times Reporter Jonathan Martin recently said, Senator Collins had the exact same position prior to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death – she believed it was too close to election day to vote on a Supreme Court nomination, given the precedent set four years ago.”

In the last vote to confirm a Supreme Court justice in 2018, Collins voted to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh amid Democratic opposition and allegations of sexual misconduct against the nominee. In a 45-minute speech on the Senate floor, Collins said she believed Christine Blasey Ford was sexually assaulted, but did not believe Kavanaugh was her attacker, and praised his record as a federal appeals court judge.

Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent, also voted against Barrett’s confirmation Monday, citing the rushed nature of the proceedings and taking issue with Barrett’s legal ideology. In a statement, King said he is concerned with Barrett’s “deeply held, radical commitment to originalism” and said she is a significant threat to the future of the Affordable Care Act.

“With Americans already casting ballots across the nation, the Senate majority decided to rush a lifetime appointment before voters could be heard,” King said. “Worse still, this happens as the nation needed actual leadership in the form of a coronavirus relief bill to restore stability to our economy and faith in our government.”

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