When Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, returns to Washington this week she’ll find coat hangers — an abortion-rights symbol — that pro-choice activists sent to her office as part of an effort to pressure her to oppose President Trump’s next Supreme Court nominee.
She and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, are the linchpins in the GOP’s push to confirm whomever the president names, and thus are key to Democrats’ hopes of victory in what’s likely to be the most bruising confirmation fight in decades.
The coat hangers — some drawn as pictures on postcards, but others the real thing — were meant to suggest Ms. Collins’ lasting legacy would be back-alley abortions should she be the deciding vote in confirming a nominee who would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision establishing a national constitutional right to abortion.
Ms. Collins has said she won’t back a nominee that is “hostile” to Roe v. Wade, telling reporters that she wants the nominee to affirm that the 1973 decision is “settled law.”
“I think I’ve made it pretty clear: If a nominee has demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade and has said that they are not going to abide by long-standing precedent, that I could not support that nominee,” she said.
That’s not enough for the left.
Brian Fallon, executive director of We Demand Justice, said they want to see a full-throated defense of abortion from the pick.
“We need a Supreme Court justice who believes that a woman has a right to safe, legal abortion,” Mr. Fallon said at a press conference last week.
The ACLU also got in on the action, launching phone banks and an ad campaign targeting Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski.
“Sen. Lisa Murkowski has always been an independent voice for our state,” the Alaska version of the ad says. “When politicians tried to undermine the liberty of women, she stood up and said ‘no.’ We need her now more than ever.”
Mr. Trump is slated to roll out his nominee Monday, but even before the name is known, conservatives are preparing to be thrilled, and liberals are certain they’ll dislike anyone that this president is willing to pick.
It’s not just abortion. Voting-rights groups say the next justice will be the deciding vote in how political campaigns are waged, and could assist a new legal assault on Obamacare.
Some progressives predict their efforts are doomed. Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski both voted last year for Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Mr. Trump’s first pick to the high court.
But others argue that this seat, left vacant by the looming retirement of key swing vote Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, is different from Justice Gorsuch, who was replacing the late Justice Antonin Scalia and thus had little effect on the court’s overall balance.
Relegated to the minority in the Senate, and hamstrung by their own moves to curtail the power of the filibuster to block nominees, Democrats have little chance except persuading Republicans to defect on the vote.
An op-ed Thursday in The New York Times suggested Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski could go even further and ditch the GOP altogether.
Back home during a week-long vacation last week, both senators faced pressure from pro-choice activists.
Activists on social media were abuzz about the #HangersforCollins campaign. People shared photos of receipts from hangers they have purchased — or drawn out on postcards — that are being sent to Ms. Collins’ office.
One image showed a coat hanger drawn in black magic marker above the message: “Your legacy.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America ran an ad in Maine newspapers last week pitting Ms. Collins against Mr. Trump.
“Trump has been loud and clear in saying he’d pick Supreme Court justices to end Roe v. Wade,” the ad said. “We believe him. Don’t you, Senator Collins?”
We Demand Justice said it will run ads in both Alaska and Maine highlighting an interview in which Mr. Trump said there “has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions if and when abortion becomes illegal.
The groups say they’re also eyeing other targets such as Republicans as Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Dean Heller of Nevada.
This article provided by NewsEdge.