Make them show which side of Roe they’re on

July 18, 2018

Kara Kralik writes from Maine on how activists are mobilizing to make pro-choice Sen. Susan Collins prove it — by opposing Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

DONALD TRUMP’S nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court is a direct threat to the working class in many ways — one of the scariest being the danger he poses to women’s right to abortion.

For that reason, activists in Maine are putting pressure on state political leaders, especially Sen. Susan Collins, to stand up for women’s right to choose and vote against Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Trump has stated that one of his goals in Supreme Court nominations would be overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. Whether Kavanaugh’s confirmation as the next justice would mean the overturning of Roe or a further acceleration of how it has been eroded, we need to do everything possible now to stop his appointment.

By picking Kavanaugh, who is viewed as respectable and professional in comparison to the extremists favored among the administration’s judicial nominees, Trump is trying to persuade more centrist Republican and Democratic senators to vote to approve him. We can’t afford to let this happen.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins
Maine Sen. Susan Collins (Fortune Live Media)

In Maine, Collins, a self-proclaimed moderate Republican, is one main focus of abortion rights supporters fighting Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Collins has forged her political identity on her willingness to vote against the Republican Party line on certain issues, including abortion. However, a Collins spokesperson told the Portland Press Herald in late June that Collins wouldn’t apply “an ideological litmus test” on Roe v. Wade to Supreme Court nominees.

This is unacceptable. Collins has already faced some pressure from protesters, and in a more recent interview, she stated that she “would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade because that would mean to me that their judicial philosophy did not include a respect for established decisions, established law.”


THE PEOPLE of Maine need to hold Collins accountable to her previous record on Roe v. Wade and demand she denounce Kavanaugh as a potential Supreme Court justice. A Rally to #SaveSCOTUS, called by at least 12 organizations for the state capital in Augusta on July 28, is a step in this direction.

Moving forward, left and liberal organizations should organize in democratic spaces that are open to all who want to oppose Kavanaugh to plan actions focusing on Collins.

We should organize and push until Collins unequivocally states that she won’t vote to confirm Kavanaugh. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, we should then organize to pressure Collins to introduce legislation that legalizes abortion and doesn’t rely on a court ruling to maintain this fundamental right.

The potential exists to mobilize large numbers of people in defense of Roe v. Wade. In 2017, 10,000 people took to the streets in Portland — a city of 67,000 — for the Women’s March, with another 5,000 estimated in Augusta, and thousands more marching in other Maine towns.

These same people who mobilized to protest the inauguration of Trump can be remobilized to stop the appointment of Kavanaugh.

To do so, democratic organizing spaces can connect everyone who is ready to fight with each other, so we can figure out how together to move forward. Activists should strive for large numbers to be out in force again to show their refusal to submit to Donald Trump’s vision for a misogynist America.

We have called Collins’ offices over and over and over again, and we should keep calling — but we also need to make our protest public and determined enough that no one can ignore it. Now is the time for mass civil disobedience, for continuous protests, for Occupy Collins and for any number of creative actions by as many people as possible, in whatever way they can contribute.

Determined action can make a difference. Collins voted against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act following massive protest and outrage against Republican attempts to deny health care to millions of Americans.

From the “red state” teachers’ strikes to protests against family separation of undocumented immigrants, we have seen that when working people fight back, we can make the Republicans to retreat. It’s time for us to force them to back down on a lifetime majority of right-wingers ruling the Supreme Court.

Owen Hill contributed to this article.

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