Collins said she has the "utmost respect" for Kennedy's service and integrity during his time on the nation's highest court and labeled him "an ideal justice".
The Democrats' hopes of sinking President Donald Trump's upcoming nominee for the Supreme Court hinge on a pair of Republican women who have broken with their party over abortion and dismantling the Affordable Care Act.
Many liberals fear that with Kennedy gone, a Trump replacement will ensure that eventually Roe v. Wade will be overturned.
When asked if she could support a Supreme Court nominee who opposed legal abortion, Collins said that she considers a variety of criteria when evaluating potential justices. However, after Kennedy informed the Trump administration he was retiring, even the most keen observers likely didn't realize how the progressive left would respond to that news. Mike Lee, who is the one non-judge on the list.
Trump's legislative director Marc Short said the White House has begun conversations with several Senate offices.
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Other women on the list include Joan Larsen, who serves on the federal appeals court in Cincinnati and previously served as a Michigan Supreme Court Justice, and Allison Eid, who serves on the federal appeals court based in Denver and previously served as a Colorado Supreme Court justice.
The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.
A sign that the White House is also focusing on these Democrats: Sen. Leo said he expected that work to start before Trump leaves on July 10 for a trip to Europe, adding that it was "not outside the realm of possibility" that the search process could conclude by then. "Usually they don't say that". He met Thursday with key Republican and Democratic senators at the White House in the evening to discuss the vacancy. Trump welcomed Republicans Chuck Grassley, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Democrats Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp as part of the effort. "We're right in the middle of this president's very first term", McConnell said. Even though Republican leader McConnell changed Senate rules a year ago to allow confirmation by simple majority, if Democrats hold together he can not afford defections.
In a survey of about 1,500 people, the Kaiser Family Foundation found slightly more than two-thirds of respondents favored keeping the ruling in Roe vs. Wade. "What we're seeing here is Gorsuch 2.0". It is gone because Donald Trump won the election.
"It is exciting though, right?" said Trump. "And I think he and I see eye-to-eye on most things when it comes to the Supreme Court of the United States".