Tapper: A lot of women around the country are looking to you right now. Almost seven in 10 women, according to a new poll, want Roe v. Wade to stay intact. What do you say to those women who say, what are you going to do here? How are you going to protect this right?
Collins: Well, first of all, let me say that there’s big difference between overturning some precedents, such as Plessy v. Ferguson, which was overturned in the school desegregation case of Brown v. the Board of Education, versus overturning a ruling that has been settled law for 46 years — 45 years.
And it involves a constitutional right and has been reaffirmed by the court 26 years ago. Indeed, Justice Roberts has made very clear that he considers Roe v. Wade to be settled law.
I would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade, because that would mean to me that their judicial philosophy did not include a respect for established decisions, established law.
And I believe that that is a very important, fundamental tenet of our judicial system, which, as Chief Justice Roberts says, helps to promote stability and even-handedness.
Tapper: So, you will not support anyone who has demonstrated hostility towards Roe v. Wade, but there are plenty of justices that the Federalist Society and other experts likely think will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, but they don’t have a record of hostility towards Roe v. Wade.
For instance, don’t you think, just as an academic matter, Neil Gorsuch, for whom you voted, don’t you think he is probably going to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade if given the chance?
Collins: I actually don’t.
I had a very long discussion with Justice Gorsuch in my office, and he pointed out to me that he is a co-author of a whole book on precedent. So, someone who devotes that much time to writing a book on precedent, I think, understands how important a principle that is in our judicial system. . . .
Tapper: I don’t have to tell you this, but you’re going to get a lot of pressure from groups and individuals who support abortion rights.
And one of the things that they think about you is that you get played by these judges and that, ultimately, if you vote to support whoever President Trump . . . nominates, presuming that person comes from this list of 25, that one of your longest-lasting legacies is likely going to be that you voted to confirm a justice who ultimately tipped the balance of power, political power, on the court and voted to overturn Roe.
Collins: Well, I know that’s what the left is saying. And that’s just so at odds with my record. I have, year after year, been named the most bipartisan member of the whole United States Senate. I have proved my independence.