Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) said Friday (Oct. 5) that she will vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, which means his odds of confirmation have just gone up and he is likely to be approved.
Collins is considered one of two key swing votes after Sen Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he would be voting yes and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska.) said she would be voting no, though Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), who voted to end debate on the nomination, could still vote against and help defeat the nominee.
The vote won't come until Saturday afternoon, so nothing is yet set in stone.
Collins said the confirmation process has looked more like a gutter-level political campaign and a dysfunctional circus, noting that a protest letter early on had not even included the name of the nominee, simply saying it would oppose "fill in the blank."
But Collins made her case for why she agreed with Kavanaugh's judicial philosophy and would support him, including pointing to his upholding of a part of the Affordable Care Act, and saying his rulings show that he does not support unchecked presidential power, a criticism leveled against him by Democrats.
Collins said that to her knowledge Kavanaugh is the first Supreme Court nominee to say that precedent is not just a precedent or a tradition, but Constitutionally dictated, which is why she does not share his critics' fears he is out to overturn abortion rights, which she said are important to her as well.
She said she did not think he would be doing the bidding of the President on abortion, or any other conservative ideologues.
She cited rave reviews for his 12 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, including for his temperament. She said he was more a centrist than his critics claim.
She said the sexual assault allegations threw the Senate's advise and consent role into a tailspin, and now the Senate is having to decide whether Kavanaugh committed sexual assault and lied about it. She said she was still in favor of a presumption of innocence, which she called a fundamental element of due process that she could not abandon.
She slammed unfounded allegations being inserted into the confirmation process. But while she said she found Christine Blasey Ford's testimony telling, and believes she is the victim of an assault, but no witnesses could corroborate the allegation that it was Kavanaugh.
Collins said to those who say confirming Kavanaugh is tantamount to the Senate condoning sexual assault, "nothing could be further from the truth." She said if there is any good to come from the process, it was to put a spotlight on the underreporting of the problem.
She even took aim at algorithms leading to websites that reinforce divisive views. She lamented moving farther away from the country's "most perfect union" ideal.
Collins' revelation of her vote was delayed by protestors calling on her to vote yes, but she was unfazed.
It was clear from early in her statement that she was about to weigh in in support of his nomination. She talked about all the dark money spent on opposing the nomination and the special interests lined up against him.