- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2020

Sen. Susan Collins is open to meeting with Judge Amy Coney Barrett about her Supreme Court nomination but no meeting has been scheduled, The Washington Times has learned.

The Maine Republican’s office said Thursday if Judge Barrett requested a meeting, then Ms. Collins would accept but no such overture has happened.

Ms. Collins is viewed as a wild card on Judge Barrett’s nomination as her support for President Trump’s judicial nominees has become a major flashpoint in her reelection battle against Sara Gideon, Democratic challenger and Speaker of the Maine House.

On her fundraising appeals, Ms. Gideon has used an image of Ms. Collins meeting with Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh ahead of his Supreme Court confirmation in 2018. A meeting between Ms. Collins and Judge Barrett could give fuel to the Democratic candidate’s campaign in the final weeks before the election.

“Senator Collins voted for every one of Trump’s judicial nominees during his first two years in office,” Ms. Gideon tweeted Wednesday. “We have to get back to a judiciary that is independent—not one that tries to take away people’s health care and reproductive rights #mepolitics.”

Ms. Collins voted to confirm Justice Kavanaugh in 2018 and explained that he had “emphatically said no” when she asked him in private whether long-established precedents, including the right to obtain an abortion recognized in Roe v. Wade, should be overturned by five of the current justices.

Ms. Collins‘ vote was critical to Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but the Maine Republican’s openness to meeting with then-Judge Kavanaugh brought an onslaught of death threats and thuggish tactics from her political opponents before she made up her mind and publicly shared her views.

The U.S. Postal Service assigned an inspector to hand-check mail to Ms. Collins‘ residence at the time surrounding the 2018 vote, because of letters purporting to contain ricin and anthrax were mailed to her home in an attempt to force her to oppose Justice Kavanaugh. Collins and her family temporarily left their residence during the fight over that Supreme Court nomination.

If Judge Barrett can still earn Ms. Collins‘ vote, she is unlikely to do so before Election Day. Ms. Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are the only Republicans who have voiced opposition to filling the Supreme Court’s vacancy before Election Day in November.

The White House did not immediately respond to request for comment on whether Judge Barrett would request a meeting with Ms. Collins.

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