Susan Collins, Shunned by Trump, Stands Firm on Amy Coney Barrett 'No' Vote After Murkowski Flips

Senator Susan Collins of Maine is due to be the lone Republican holdout voting against the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, after Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said Saturday she would vote "yes" early next week.

Collins has said since September that she would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court justice before the election.

"My statement was a model of clarity. ... I made it very clear, yes, that I did not think there should be a vote prior to the election," Collins told reporters on September 22, according to The Hill.

She also said earlier in September that if the vote were postponed until after the election, she would not vote to confirm if President Donald Trump lost, according to a tweet by New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin.

A spokesperson for Collins told Newsweek on Saturday that her plans had not changed.

"When President Obama nominated Judge Garland eight months before the 2016 presidential election, I met with him and maintained that he was entitled to a hearing. Others argued that the winner of that year's presidential election should be allowed to choose the nominee, and that is what happened. My views did not prevail, and the standard was established that a nominee to the Court would not be voted on prior to the election in a presidential election year. This year, a vacancy has also occurred, notably much closer to the election," Collins said in a statement obtained by Newsweek on Saturday night.

"Because this vote is occurring prior to the election, I will vote against the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. 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. 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," she added.

Until Murkowski's statement on Saturday, she and Collins were expected to vote against Barrett's confirmation to the Supreme Court, filling the seat of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Though Murkowski had said as late as Thursday she opposed the Republican Party's attempt to rush Barrett's confirmation, on the Senate floor Saturday, she announced she had changed her mind.

"I believe that the only way to put us back on the path of appropriate consideration of judicial nominees is to evaluate Judge Barrett as we would want to be judged. On the merits of her qualifications. And we do that when that final questions comes before us. And when it does, I will be a 'yes,'" Murkowski said.

"I had hoped that if we were going to be at this moment in time just over a week out from our national elections, that we would be here on the floor debating—debating the merits of a [stimulus] relief bill. And in my home state of Alaska, as in so many states around the country, we're seeing unprecedented numbers [of new coronavirus] cases now," Murkowski continued.

Collins' expected "no" vote on the confirmation of Barrett will likely be symbolic. Even without her, Republicans still have the simple majority needed to confirm the judge. The expected vote is 52-48 in favor of Barrett.

susan collins
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is expected to be the only Republican senator to vote against the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court early next week. Alex Edelman/Getty

Collins is one of the most moderate Republicans in the Senate. Earlier this year, the Lugar Center and McCourt School ranked her as the most bipartisan senator for the seventh year in a row.

With her reputation for bipartisanship, Collins has repeatedly sparred with Trump. In August 2016, she said she would not be voting for Trump in the election. She and Murkowski voted against the confirmation of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Collins voted against the American Health Care Act, which would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

On October 16, Trump slammed her for not supporting Barrett.

"There is a nasty rumor out there that @SenatorCollins of Maine will not be supporting our great United States Supreme Court Nominee. Well, she didn't support Healthcare or my opening up 5000 square miles of Ocean to Maine, so why should this be any different. Not worth the work!" the president tweeted.

Collins is facing a tough election herself this year. Most polls show her trailing her Democratic challenger, Sara Gideon. The latest poll from Pan Atlantic Research shows Gideon leading Collins 47 percent to 40 percent.

Other polls show the race as much closer, according to FiveThirtyEight, with polls in early October conducted by Critical Insight only showing a single percentage point between them, but still in Gideon's favor. FiveThirtyEight's analysis shows that Gideon is "slightly favored" to win the Senate seat.

Update (10/24/2020, 10:30 p.m.): This article has been updated to include a statement from Sen. Collins.