‘Pro-Choice’ Susan Collins Fêted by Right-Wing Judicial Honcho

Susan Collins, U.S. Senator, (R.-Maine) at Fortune magazine’s 2013 Most Powerful Women Summit. Photograph by Stephanie Merriken / Fortune Most Powerful Women

Susan Collins, the United States senator from Maine, would like you to believe that she is pro-choice. In fact, she was so concerned about the future of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that made abortion legal in all 50 states, that she made a point of asking Brett Kavanaugh for his views on it before she felt comfortable casting her confirmation vote for his elevation to the high court, she said. Having received his assurances that Roe is “precedent upon precedent,” Collins gave him the thumbs-up, even after his unhinged performance in a televised hearing following the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of having sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination—as well as that of Neil Gorsuch—and the nominations of a host of right-wing lower-court judges were made at the bidding of Leonard Leo, executive vice president of The Federalist Society, the well-resourced right-wing group bent on recasting the entire federal judiciary in the image of the late Antonin Scalia and his fellow-travelers. In fact, Leo took a brief leave from his job in 2018 in order to help shepherd the Kavanaugh nomination through the Senate on the Trump administration’s behalf.

On Saturday, Collins—who wants you to know that, unlike those other Republicans, she is very, very bipartisan—attended a fundraiser held in honor of her re-election bid at Leo’s $4 million country house in Maine. (Leo has personally already given $2,800 to Collins’ campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.)

Called the “judge whisperer” to President Donald Trump, it’s safe to assume that Leo never met a pro-choice judge he could get behind. The Federalist Society collects large sums of money from an array of right-wing entities, including those of the Koch brothers’ network of donors. In 2015, the Mercer Family Foundation, founded by Robert and Rebekah Mercer, erstwhile patrons of Steve Bannon, granted The Federalist Society $2.3 million—which amounted to 10 percent of the foundation’s assets that year, Right Wing Watch reported. Rebekah Mercer is anti-choice; the Mercer Family Foundation also donates to the ironically-named anti-choice group, Susan B. Anthony List.

Outside the gates of Leo’s mansion, reports the Bangor Daily News, protesters greeted Collins’ arrival. That didn’t stop Collins from joining her anti-choice patron in raising some dough for her re-election effort. For Leo, the stakes are high: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised that if he can maintain control of the upper chamber, “we’re going to transform the federal judiciary for a generation.” Susan Collins is one cog in that wheel.

This chart from OpenSecrets.org shows the flow of millions of dollars between right-wing entities to promote the nominations of right-wing judges. To locate the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo, find the purple oval between “BH Group” and “BH Fund”.