Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Wednesday said judges should respect Roe v. Wade just hours after Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, The Hill reports.
"I view Roe v. Wade as being settled law," Collins told reporters, referencing the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the United States. "It's clearly precedent, and I always look for judges who respect precedent."
Kennedy was the fifth vote for upholding Roe v. Wade, and his retirement could mean the 1973 decision will be overturned in the not-too-distant future. Currently, the Supreme Court has four justices who are believed to oppose Roe v. Wade. President Donald Trump's potential nominees for the court are all known as conservatives, and he has previously vowed to nominate "pro-life" justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Any challenge to the decision, though, would need to work its way through the lower courts before the Supreme Court decides to revisit the case.
"Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that's really what's going to be — that will happen," Trump said during an October 2016 debate. "And that'll happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this: It will go back to the states, and the states will then make a determination."
Collins, along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are two pro-abortion rights Republicans who are likely to exert significant influence on the debate over Roe v. Wade.
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