Susan Collins seems impressed with Kavanaugh, which was probably the determining factor in choosing him.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate who supports abortion rights and has said she could not back a nominee who opposed Roe v. Wade, told NBC News she was "glad" about remarks Kavanaugh made more than 10 years ago that the 1973 ruling legalizing abortion was "settled precedent."
Her comments offer a preview of the rationale she might use in eventually backing his confirmation — a would-be critical vote for the GOP to maintain its slim Senate majority.
"Back then, he said that he considered Roe to be settled precedent and that is my judgment as well, so I was glad to hear him say that at that time," Collins said, adding that she would raise the issue when she meets privately with him as part of the confirmation process.
In 2006, during his confirmation hearing for a seat on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Kavanaugh said he "would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully." Kavanaugh called it a "binding precedent of the court."
Collins also said Tuesday she found Kavanaugh's dissent "notable" in a 2011 decision by his Circuit Court in which the senator pointed out he did not argue for striking down Obamacare's ban on health insurers' discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions or for doing away with the individual mandate. Kavanaugh, in his dissent, said he believed the court did not have jurisdiction in the case challenging the Affordable Care Act.
With a 51-49 senate and every single Democrat going to be under threat of excommunication if they vote for him, Collins's vote becomes absolutely critical. No doubt red state Democratic senators like Claire McCaskill would prefer not to go against her party's base. But neither does she want to be blamed if Kavanaugh goes down, which is what the GOP in Missouri is poised to do. A Collins "yes" on Kavanaugh gives McCaskill an out and the chance to keep her base happy by voting "no."
The other Republican problem child, Lisa Murkowski, has also made nice noises about Kavanaugh. Apparently, Trump will have a united Republican senate to confirm his choice.
And the Democrats can do squat to stop it.