The Latest: Collins to vote no on court pick before election

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FILE - In this June 30, 2020, file photo, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Collins is once again in a pressure cooker over an issue riveting the nation. This time it's the battle over President Donald Trumps effort to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. (Al Drago/Pool via AP, File)

WASHINGTON – The Latest on the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Ginsburg (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Maine’s Susan Collins has become the first Republican senator to say she’ll vote against any of President Donald Trump’s picks for the Supreme Court vacancy if the vote occurs before Election Day.

Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski has said she’s against voting on a nominee before the election. But opposition by Collins and Murkowski wouldn’t be enough to stop majority Republicans from pushing a Trump pick through the chamber.

Collins tells reporters she’ll vote “no” because of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to consider a Supreme Court nomination by President Barack Obama when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016.

That was nine months before that year’s presidential election. McConnell said then that the voters should decide which president should make a nomination. This time, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died 46 days before Election Day.

Collins tells reporters that the Senate should now follow “the same set of rules.”

Collins faces a competitive reelection in November in a state known for independent, moderate voters.



— Senate Republicans have swiftly fallen in line behind Trump’s rush to fill Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat.

— Potential nominees include White House lawyer Kate Comerford Todd and federal appeals court judge Joan L. Larsen.

— Some Democrats, but not yet presidential nominee Joe Biden, are talking about expanding the Supreme Court.

— Sen. Mitt Romney, who went rogue with impeachment vote, is once again siding with Republicans on the plan for Ginsburg's seat.


Follow AP’s Supreme Court coverage at


10 a.m.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney says he will not oppose a Senate vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

In a statement Tuesday, Romney said he intends to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering Trump’s nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, “I intend to vote based upon their qualifications,″ Romney said.

Romney’s views had been closely watched after two other Republican senators — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — urged that a vote be delayed until after the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Romney said his decision was “not the result of a subjective test of ‘fairness’ which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent.″

Trump says he'll announce his nominee on Saturday at the White House.


9:15 a.m.

Ten former federal judges, including former FBI Director William Webster, are asking Senate leaders to withhold consideration of a Supreme Court nominee until after Inauguration Day.

The ex-judges, appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents, say the judicial confirmation process has become “dangerously politicized.’’ They warn that injecting a bitter Supreme Court confirmation fight “into this noxious mix” could “unalterably change and diminish the public’s faith in this vital institution.’’

The legitimacy of the Supreme Court “is not something that can be recovered if it is lost,’’ the judges wrote in a letter to Senate leaders from both parties. “It is up to you to demonstrate the same restraint demanded of our judiciary.’’

In addition to Webster, who was a district and appeals court judge before heading the FBI and CIA, the letter is signed by nine other former judges. They include appeals courts judges H. Lee Sarokin of New Jersey, Thomas Vanaskie of Pennsylvania, and Ann Claire Williams of Illinois.


8:25 a.m.

Republican Sen. Martha McSally, who is running in a special election in Arizona, says re-electing her is key not only to keeping the GOP in control of the Senate but also to ensuring that President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is confirmed.

If her Democratic opponent, Mark Kelly, wins, he could take office as early as Nov. 30. This would shrink the GOP’s Senate majority as it works to confirm Trump’s nominee. Kelly has maintained a consistent polling lead over McSally, who was appointed to the seat held by John McCain when he died in 2018.

McSally said Tuesday on “Fox & Friends" that, “We’re at ground zero here in Arizona. She said Kelly "came out and said he would be with (Senate Minority Leader Chuck) Schumer to delay and get some liberal activist judge on the bench. So the stakes have just gone up in our race, in particular. We’re a dead heat right now.”

McSally is among Republicans who believe the current Senate should vote on Trump’s nominee without delay. Currently, Republicans hold 53 seats in the 100-member chamber.


7:30 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham says Republicans have the votes to confirm President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Graham, R-S.C., said late Monday on Fox News that he wouldn't be intimidated by Democrats, who vehemently oppose any confirmation vote until a new president is inaugurated. In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow a vote on President Barack Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland during an election year.

Two years later, Democrats fought unsuccessfully to halt the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh over allegations that he’d committed sexual assault while in high school — allegations Kavanaugh denied.

“They tried to destroy Brett Kavanagh so they could fill the seat,” Graham told Fox News, adding: "It didn’t work with Kavanaugh. We’ve got the votes to confirm Justice Ginsburg’s replacement before the election. We’re going to move forward in the committee. We’re going to report the nomination out of the committee to the floor of the United States Senate so we can vote before the election.”

Graham, who subsequently took over the Judiciary chairmanship from Sen. Charles Grassley, said, “After Kavanaugh everything changed with me. They’re not going to intimidate me, Mitch McConnell or anybody else.”

“We’re going to have a process that you’ll be proud of,” Graham said. "The nominee is going to be supported by every Republican in the Judiciary Committee. We’ve got the votes to confirm the justice on the floor of the Senate before the election and that’s what’s coming.”

Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate, 53-47 and can confirm a justice by a simple majority.