A US Republican senator from Maine has suggested that Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh misled senators during hearings on whether they would vote to overturn Roe v Wade.
“If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office,” Susan Collins said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Obviously, we won’t know each Justice’s decision and reasoning until the Supreme Court officially announces its opinion in this case.”
The Supreme Court confirmed the authenticity of the draft originally published by Politico on Monday night, but noted it may not represent the high court’s final decision. Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into the leak.
Ms Collins, whose vote was critical in the confirmation of Mr Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, previously expressed confidence that he would not overturn the Roe v Wade decision.
During his confirmation heading, Mr Kavanaugh said Roe is “settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis”, Bloomberg reported, meaning that the court should respect its precedents.
“When I asked him would it be sufficient to overturn a long-established precedent if five current justices believed it was wrongly decided, he emphatically said ‘no’,” she said in a 2018 statement confirming her intention to back Mr Kavanaugh.
Mr Kavanaugh and Mr Gorsuch reportedly are believed to have joined Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett in the Supreme Court’s decision.
Mr Gorsuch, during his hearing in 2017, called the abortion-rights ruling a “precedent of the United States Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed.”
Senate Majority Schumer expressed fury over the Supreme Court’s potential decision, calling the reported votes an “abomination”.
“Several of these conservative justices ... lied to the American people, have lied to the US Senate, ripped up the Constitution and defiled both precedent and the Supreme Court’s reputation,” he said in a statement.
Ms Collins, along with Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, proposed similar legislation in February. But it probably would not reach the 60-vote threshold needed to advance under the Senate’s filibuster rule.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Ms Murkowski said her “confidence in the court has been rocked” over the leaked document and potential overturning of Roe v Wade. Ms Murkowski did not vote to confirm Mr Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court after allegations he sexually assaulted a girl in while in high school.
The two Republican senators and Kyrsten Sinema, Democratic senator of Arizona, have all opposed to changing the 60-vote threshold.
Mr Schumer vowed to hold a vote on legislation codifying abortion rights, but he stopped short of presenting changes to the Senate’s filibuster rule.
Bloomberg contributed to this report