When the supreme court decided on Friday to overturn Roe v Wade, several senators who recently approved justices responsible for this decision said they felt deceived. These politicians pointed to prior statements from Trump appointees Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch; both male judges had claimed they would not overturn Roe.
“I feel misled,” the Maine senator Susan Collins told the New York Times. In a lengthy meeting on 21 August 2018, the Republican reportedly grilled Kavanaugh to explain why he could be trusted not to overturn Roe.
“Start with my record, my respect for precedent, my belief that it is rooted in the constitution, and my commitment and its importance to the rule of law,” Kavanaugh responded, per notes taken by “multiple” staffers at the meeting, the Times said. “I understand precedent and I understand the importance of overturning it.”
“Roe is 45 years old, it has been reaffirmed many times, lots of people care about it a great deal, and I’ve tried to demonstrate I understand real-world consequences,” Kavanaugh elaborated, according to these notes, and also claimed, “I am a don’t-rock-the-boat kind of judge. I believe in stability and in the Team of Nine.”
“This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting longstanding precedents that the country has relied upon,” Collins said in a statement.
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the lone Democrat to back Kavanaugh, voiced similar sentiments. “I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v Wade was settled legal precedent and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans,” the Times reported him saying.
Senators expressed similar surprise after Politico published a leaked draft of this opinion on 2 May. Among them was the Alaska Republican senator Lisa Murkowski. She opposed Kavanaugh but entered a “present” vote, “as a courtesy” to the Republican Montana senator Steve Daines, who backed him but could not vote as he was attending his daughter’s wedding, per NBC News.
Murkowski did vote to confirm Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett, another Trump appointee who overturned Roe. Following the Politico report, NBC News reported Murkowski saying her “confidence in the court has been rocked”.
“If the decision is going the way that the draft that has been revealed is actually the case, it was not – it was not the direction that I believed that the court would take based on statements that have been made about Roe being settled and being precedent,” Murkowski reportedly said.