(CN) – Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced Friday afternoon that she will vote in favor of Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday, all but assuring his confirmation as the next associate justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Collins said she believes that Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her at a party 35 years ago, “is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life.”
“Nevertheless the four people that she named could not corroborate anything,” the senator said.
Ford’s allegations, she continued, “failed to meet the ‘more likely than not’ standard. Therefore, I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court.”
Turning her attention to the nomination process itself, which she called a “dysfunctional circus,” Collins said, “Our Supreme Court confirmation process has been in steady decline for more than 30 years. One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom.”
Beyond the sexual misconduct claims, Collins additionally explained she believes her role as a senator is to determine whether a president’s Supreme Court nominee is “within the mainstream” of judicial thought. She said she opposes “litmus tests” for nominees and that she does not subscribe to arguments that Kavanaugh would be a vote against the federal healthcare law or that he would give a free pass to President Donald Trump while serving on the court.
A rare Republican supporter of abortion rights in the Senate, Collins said she was also satisfied enough with Kavanaugh’s answers about precedent to conclude he would not be a threat to Roe v. Wade if confirmed to the high court.
“To my knowledge, Judge Kavanaugh is the first Supreme Court nominee to express the view that precedent is not merely a practice and tradition, but rooted in Article Three of our Constitution itself,” Collins said.
Collins’ speech came shortly after Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said he plans to support Kavanaugh’s nomination on Saturday. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced shortly after Collins’ speech that he too would be voting to confirm.
“I have reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing,” Manchin said in a statement. “And my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life. However, based on all of the information I have available to me, including the recently completed FBI report, I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him. I do hope that Judge Kavanaugh will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court.”
Barring any surprise defections, with Collins, Flake and Manchin on board, Kavanaugh will receive enough votes to take retired Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, was the one Republican to oppose Kavanaugh in a procedural vote on Friday.
The confirmation vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination is expected to take place on Saturday.