U.S. Sen. Angus King said Wednesday that he will vote against confirming U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
King, an independent from Maine, said in a statement that his decision followed careful deliberation and a thorough review of Kavanaugh’s record, or at least what was made available to him. The statement said the senator also took into account “the opinions of thousands of Maine people who have written and called into his office or approached the senator personally.”
“I consider the vote the Senate is about to take on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court to be among the most important my colleagues and I will ever face,” King said in the statement. “Unlike most of our decisions, which can be amended, repealed, or otherwise corrected over time, this is a one-time vote on a lifetime appointment which will likely profoundly affect our country for the foreseeable future. There are no do-overs or second chances on this one; each of us, including the people of Maine, will have to live with the consequences of this vote for years to come.
“After this intensive process, I have determined that I cannot support this nomination,” he said.
King’s decision is not seen as a surprise – he also voted against Justice Neil Gorsuch last year – but it underscores how close the vote is expected to be in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-49 majority. If Democrats unite in opposition, Kavanaugh’s nomination could be derailed if just two Republicans vote no.
That could put the spotlight fully on Maine’s other senator, Susan Collins, a Republican who has faced mounting pressure from some to buck her party and reject Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
King’s statement said he made several attempts to privately meet with Kavanaugh over the past two months. He listed five reasons why he couldn’t support his nomination.
The first was what King termed Kavanaugh’s “overly rigid judicial philosophy,” which he believes could allow states greater leeway in eroding personal liberty protections outlined in prior court cases, including Roe v. Wade.
King said he was troubled by Kavanaugh’s “very broad view of presidential power,” at a time when Trump remains under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The senator said he is frustrated both by the lack of documents that were provided to senators during the process and also by some of Kavanaugh’s answers during his confirmation hearing last week.
The final strike against Kavanaugh, King said, is “the deeply conservative dark money groups investing millions in those glossy TV ads.”
“The existence of this campaign probably tells us more about what kind of judge he will be than any opinion, speech, or Senate testimony,” King said.
King, a former two-term governor, was elected to the Senate in 2012, replacing Republican Olympia Snowe, who unexpectedly stepped down. He is up for re-election in November, and he is being challenged by Republican Eric Brakey, a two-term state senator from Auburn, and Democrat Zak Ringelstein, a former teacher and entrepreneur from Yarmouth.
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks with reporters June 26 following a closed-door policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP File Photo/Andrew Harnik)