Confirming the predictions of those who said she would ultimately side with the Republican Party if her vote was needed to ram through Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced Friday afternoon that she was a "yes" on the nominee—a decision that pushes his final approval to nearly certain and immediately sparked outrage among those who had raised their voices to demand she vote against the controversial right-wing choice.
"Mr. President, I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh," Collins declared from the floor of the Senate after more than 45-minute speech.
Collins said she thought Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony about her sexual assault by Kavanaugh was "sincere, painful, and compelling," but ultimately said that "fairness would dictate" giving Kavanaugh's denials the benefit of the doubt.
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) October 5, 2018
Ahead of her speech on the floor of the Senate, protesters in the gallery shouted for Collins to vote "no." They were quieted and ultimately—like the millions of others who called on Collins to stand agaisnst Kavanaugh—ignored.
"Senator Collins may claim to be pro-choice and an ally to women, but this vote will now be her legacy. She has claimed to support women and our fundamental freedoms, but now we know she will throw our rights, our lives, and our well-being under the bus when given the chance," said NARAL Pro-Choice Americapresident Ilyse Hogue after the announcement.
"Today, Senator Collins betrayed women in Maine and all across America. We will never forget it, not today and not in 2020 when Maine voters will elect someone who will actually fight for Maine women and families." —Ilyse Hogue, NARAL Pro-Choice America"Kavanaugh is hostile to women and has a clear anti-choice record, has lied under oath, and been accused of sexual assault by three women," Hogue continued. "These are not the values of Mainers, and supporting his confirmation is a grave disregard for the integrity of the Supreme Court, our democratic values, and Senator Collins’ responsibility to the people of Maine. Today, Senator Collins betrayed women in Maine and all across America. We will never forget it, not today and not in 2020 when Maine voters will elect someone who will actually fight for Maine women and families."
While Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) became the only Republican on Friday to say she will vote against Kavanaugh, Collins' support was immediately followed by Democratic holdout Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia who said he, too, will vote to confirm Kavanaugh.
In the meantime, the outrage and anger directed at Collins was immediate and intense, with women declaring Collins a traitor and individuals and organizations vowing to be sure she is challenged and defeated in 2020:
Quite a legacy Collins has chosen for herself. Have a fun 2020 general election, Senator!
— Alex Kotch (@alexkotch) October 5, 2018
Susan Collins: "The #MeToo movement matters."
Also Susan Collins: I am about to vote to approve an accused sexual predator for a lifetime appointment on the nation's highest court.
— Marina Fang (@marinafang) October 5, 2018
Senator Susan Collins is the mother & grandmother of white women in America who gave us a Donald Trump presidency. The 53%.
She is a disgrace & her legacy will be that she was a traitor to women and marginalized communities. History will not treat her kindly. #CancelKanavaugh
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) October 5, 2018
I think everyone underestimates the fury the GOP just unleashed. Vote them all out. Especially @SenatorCollins in 2020. Here is where you can donate to her eventual challenger: #mepolitics https://t.co/Y4heJWu3lb
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— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) October 5, 2018
.@SenatorCollins does not believe Professor Ford. Period.
Women in this nation will remember this. We will all remember this.
Talking about the #MeToo movement doesn't help your case Senator. It's not how it works. Shame on you.
— Erika Andiola (@ErikaAndiola) October 5, 2018
I don't have anything smart or snarky or clever to say about Susan Collins decision and speech. All of this is just horrible, and it's going to directly impact so many people's lives. This system is rotten to the core.
— Evan Greer (@evan_greer) October 5, 2018
The website tracking donation pledges to defeat Collins in 2020—operated by the Maine People's Alliance, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, and healthcare activist Ady Barkan—immediately started spiking in the wake of her announcement.
Ahead of Collins' announcement, Jezebel spoke to many Maine women voters who said they recognize that their senator—while she does a good job of projecting herself as an independent and brave voice in the Republican Party—is not interested in standing up for sexual assault survivors and female constituents. Erica Kitch, a former lawyer who spoke to the outlet during a protest outside Collins' office in Portland said she wrote to Collins nearly every day over the last week, but that she no longer thinks her senator cares about those who protested so loudly against Kavanaugh.
"Collins says she listens," Kitch said, "but she doesn't really."
Issuing a clarion call for progressives if Kavanaugh is ultimately confirmed, Phyllis Bennis and Rev. William Barber III wrote in The Nation on Friday that the only proper response would be a mass mobilization unlike anything ever seen.
"If Kavanaugh is seated despite the dangers he represents, then we must mobilize like never before, this year and again in 2020, to vote out extremists who threaten our rights," write Bennis and Barber. "Abolitionists didn't relent after the Dred Scott decision. The end of Reconstruction didn't mean an end to the fight against racism. A potential Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh does not end the struggle for women's rights, or for any other kind of justice. We must continue that same fight."
As Collins' position became clear, the crowd of Mainers outside her Portland office, many of whom have spoken with her and her staffers multiple times a week since Kavanaugh's nomination was announced on July 9, expressed outrage.
Outside Susan Collins’ Portland, Maine office, voters were outraged as she announced she would vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. pic.twitter.com/RPVzwsdajq
— Common Dreams (@commondreams) October 5, 2018
Watch her full floor speech:
Dini Merz, co-founder of Mainers for Accountable Leadership (MFAL), urged Mainers and progressives across the country to remain "unbowed, unbent, unbroken" as the country looks ahead to a Supreme Court seat for Kavanaugh.
"I think we need to remember always how far we've come as a movement," Merz said of the Americans who called, wrote to, and directly confronted their senators in recent weeks. "We need to keep that in mind as we commit to move forward together and to never ever go back."