Trump meets with Supreme Court contenders, two in focus

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"A candidate who would overturn Roe would not be acceptable", said Collins, "because I believe that they have demonstrated a disrespect for the vital principle of stare decisis".

Trump could have even more high court vacancies to fill, as Kennedy is one of four justices over the age of 70.

Trump has said he will pick a nominee by July 9 from a list of 25 judges.

Collins and even several Democrats agreed to back Gorsuch because they said he clearly valued legal precedent and the independence of USA courts.

A controversial issue overwhelming the debate on the appointment of Kennedy's successor is abortion, which was legalised by a Supreme Court decision in 1973 and may come up again before the court. Majority similarly have a record of speaking of the importance of precedent.

Collins and fellow senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are the only two nominally pro-choice Republicans in the Senate.

Some senators who oppose abortion rights said, regardless of whom Trump nominates and how far rightward the ultimate ideological composition of the Supreme Court shifts, there are no guarantees about future decisions on abortion or any other divisive topic.

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When Trump campaigned for the presidency, he was adamant about his stance on abortion rights.

Manchin has already warned the White House against an overtly anti-abortion nominee.

With little more than a week before President Donald Trump announces his nominee to the highest court in the land, Trump sought to downplay some of his past comments about making opposition to legalized abortion a litmus test for his Supreme Court nominees. She emphasized that there were certain people on Trump's candidate list that she wouldn't vote for, though she didn't specify who those people were.

Collins said her office does research and has discussions on a nominee's record, and she won't vote for someone with an activist record.

"And that would indicate to me a failure to respect precedent, a fundamental tenet of our judicial system", Collins continued. That judicial approach typically involves a more literal interpretation of the Constitution as compared to broader rulings such as Roe. On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. criticized the record of U.S. Appeals Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett of IN, who is one of seven judges considered to be front-runners.

In 2002, according to Talking Points Memo, Collins said: "The Republican party should be as synonymous with protecting a woman's right to choose as the Democratic party is with expanded government or raising taxes". The White House has also yet to announce who will shepherd the nominee through the Senate confirmation process, acting as the nominee's "sherpa". But during his Senate confirmation hearing, he said he accepts Roe v. Wade as "the law of the land".