Progressives in Maine and across the U.S. on Tuesday urged Sen. Susan Collins' constituents to reject her latest attempt to cast herself as a moderate Republican after the four-term senator voted against Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation.
Collins was the only member of her party to vote against the judge's confirmation and was one of two Republicans on Sunday to vote against advancing Barrett's nomination to the Senate floor. But in Maine, progressive activists who have spent recent years vowing to unseat Collins in next week's election said the senator's actions must not be confused for a principled stand against President Donald Trump's agenda.
Marie Follayttar, executive director of the grassroots group Mainers for Accountable Leadership, noted that Collins made clear she has no problem with Barrett serving as a federal judge when she supported her 2017 confirmation to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Collins made that vote despite the fact that Barrett had never before served as a judge, tried a case to verdict, or argued an appeal in court. While Collins has long branded herself as pro-choice, she voted for Barrett even though she has very publicly espoused anti-choice views.
Dubbing her 'Sidekick Sue,' Follayttar told Common Dreams Tuesday that Collins was "given her hall pass by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when — and only when — the votes to confirm were in and she could play the act of moderate senator from Maine."
Follayttar and other progressives argued that Collins' vote against Barrett on Monday night was one the Senate Republicans could afford, since every other member of the party supported sending Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Although Collins objected to the Senate vote on Barrett's confirmation just over a week before Election Day, while early voting is already underway across the country, grassroots group Suit Up Maine tweeted that the senator "approves of Barrett's anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion, originalist views."
"WE. WILL. VOTE. HER. OUT," the organization said.
The senator acknowledged as much on Sunday, stating, "Because this vote is occurring prior to the election, I will vote against the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. To be clear, my vote does not reflect any conclusion that I have reached about Judge Barrett's qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court."
Reproductive rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America accused Collins of attempting to "rewrite history" two years after she supported the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who had been accused of sexual assault and had also issued anti-choice rulings as a federal judge.
"Susan Collins' vote against Amy Barrett's confirmation is a last-ditch effort to rewrite history and distract voters from her betrayal in voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court," said NARAL President Ilyse Hogue. "Collins' vote paved the way for cementing a right-wing majority on the Court bound and determined to gut Roe v. Wade and roll back decades of progress on reproductive freedom and women's rights. That cannot be erased and voters will not forget."
"Senator Collins has continued to enable Trump and McConnell's anti-choice, anti-freedom agenda," Hogue added. "This vote is too little, too late."
In addition to voting for Kavanaugh, Collins has supported the confirmations of dozens of President Donald Trump's anti-choice judiciary nominees, all while continuing to claim that she supports reproductive rights.
With Sara Gideon, the Democratic candidate running for Collins' seat, holding only a slim lead in recent polls, progressives are hoping to counter the narrative that persists in the mainstream press regarding Collins as a moderate voice in the Republican Party, as evidenced by recent Newsweek headlines calling her "the lone Republican to oppose" Barrett and claiming she's been "shunned by Trump" but is "standing firm" against the new justice.
"When you look at her record: the tax giveaways, the Kavanaugh appointment, undermining the ACA — it's clear that Susan Collins is interested in keeping her access to wealth and power in Washington, but she's no longer interested in being our senator," said Willy Ritch, executive director of the Maine-based grassroots group 16 Counties Coalition.
"Susan Collins keeps saying she wants us to judge her on her record," added Ritch. "But her record shows she is loyal to Mitch McConnell and the corporate special interests that fund their campaigns, not the Mainers she claims to represent."