Susan Collins to ‘carefully’ scrutinize Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said she’s going to conduct a “careful, thorough vetting” of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

Trump announced Monday night that he’s selected Brett Kavanaugh, a solidly conservative judge, to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Collins statement read: “Judge Kavanaugh has impressive credentials and extensive experience, having served more than a decade on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. I will conduct a careful, thorough vetting of the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court, as I have done with the five previous Supreme Court justices whom I have considered. I look forward to Judge Kavanaugh’s public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and to questioning him in a meeting in my office.”

Also, Collins declined Trump’s invitation to go to the White House for the announcement of his pick to fill the Supreme Court seat.

“She appreciates the invitation, but will not be attending,” Collins spokeswoman Annie Clarke said.

Collins is a critical swing vote in the Senate confirmation process for whomever Trump nominates to replace Kennedy.

That sets up a ferocious confirmation battle with Democrats who are pressuring Collins and Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to oppose any nominee who threatens Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortions legal.

Collins has said she would oppose any nominee she believed would overturn Roe v. Wade. She stressed that she wants to back a judge who would show respect for settled law such as the Roe decision.

Portland Press Herald writer Matt Byrne contributed to this report.

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