Well, at least the Roberts’ Court definition of free speech, which is to say campaign donations. Republican Senator Susan Collins isn’t happy with the online pledge effort that has raised over $1 million and would be donated to a Democratic opponent if she votes for Brett Kavanaugh. Nope, not at all (boldface mine):
So far, she has said that high-dollar advertising campaigns and other pressure wouldn’t change her vote. Collins also last week dismissed a 2003 email in which Kavanaugh — while a White House lawyer editing an op-ed — questioned whether the precedent in Roe v. Wade should have been called “settled law” — a key issue for the pro-abortion rights Collins.
Democrats have argued that Kavanaugh’s statements on the subject don’t mean much and they have ramped up efforts to pressure Collins, including through a novel crowdfunding effort that has pledged nearly $1 million to Collins’ “future opponent” in 2020 if she votes for Kavanaugh.
On Monday, Collins blasted that effort in an “exclusive statement” to Newsmax, a conservative site, saying it’s “the equivalent of an attempt to bribe me” and that it “will not influence my vote at all” while demonstrating “the new lows to which the judge’s opponents have stooped.”
But the Roberts’ Court told us campaign contributions are free speech. Looking at the campaign contributions she has received over the years, she definitely seems to be following Mitt Romney’s aphorism, “Corporations are people, my friend.”
It’s clear Collins is running scared, though I doubt she’ll vote against Kavanaugh (she was never going to do so anyway). She raises about $1 million per year, and currently has about $1 million of campaign funds on hand. Her Democratic challenger would have more money than she would right out of the gate–and that’s before the candidate herself (or himself!) has even started fundraising.
Would Collins approve if the fundraising effort happened after a vote for Kavanaugh? Of course not. Yes, this is a bit more blunt than the usual smooth lobbyist, but it is no different in kind than what she has been doing since 1995. The irony is that Collins has, for the most part, supported the nomination of judges who made it possible to do things like this. It’s her America and her ‘free speech’, the rest of us are just trying to get by in all of it.