Maine lawyers to Collins: Kavanaugh is ‘dangerous for the respect of the rule of law’

Six lawyers traveled to Washington this week to hand-deliver to Senator Susan Collins a letter signed by 236 Maine attorneys who say a “yay” vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh would be a threat to Supreme Court norms and procedure and the broader rule of law.

On Thursday, the attorneys — Jackie Sartoris, Jon Hinck, Tim Schneider, Tara Rich, Nancy Wanderer and Ben Gaines — met with Collins in her D.C. office.

Chief among the lawyers’ concerns was the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee deliberately withholding thousands of emails and documents from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House and not allowing the conservative jurist’s full record to be assessed by the Senate or the public.

“Not following a deliberative process is really dangerous and we hope that you take the time to consider that,” Ben Gaines, who serves as legal counsel and treasurer of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, told Collins in her office on Thursday.


“We told Senator Collins that by selectively withholding documents from the public, Republican leadership is dangerously undermining the rule of law — while it’s already under constant assault from the president,” Gaines wrote in an email after the meeting.

On Thursday, a 2003 email by Kavanaugh was released to the press which contradicts Collins’ public interpretation of a previous assurance he made to her on Aug. 22 that he considered Roe v. Wade “settled law.”

“The leaked emails … prove she’s turning a blind eye to a deliberate effort to hide Kavanaugh’s record and positions from her constituents,” Gaines said.

The lawyers also expressed to Maine’s potential swing-vote senator that Kavanaugh is a conservative ideologue who has expressed hostility towards Roe and the Affordable Care Act and is unfit for a lifetime appointed to the court.

The signed letter, which Gaines and the others attorneys gave to Collins, explains, “We are troubled by Judge Kavanaugh’s extreme partisan background. From his work under Kenneth Starr to draft the Clinton impeachment referral, to participation on the Republican team that litigated Bush v. Gore, to service in the Bush White House, Judge Kavanaugh has been a Republican political operative for much of his career.”

The letter continues, “A judiciary independent of the other branches of government and removed from partisan rancor should be a bulwark of American democracy.”

After his hearings this week, Kavanaugh also stands accused of lying to Congress about his knowledge of documents stolen from Democratic lawmakers during his time in the Bush White House.

Kavanaugh has made statements suggesting he thinks that a president is immune from indictment while in office, which is of concern to the lawyers considering that a presidential indictment is a possible outcome of Robert Muller’s special counsel investigation into the Trump administration.

Gaines told Collins that this revelation “could be dangerous for the respect of the rule of the law in this country.”

(Photo: Jon Hinck, Jackie Sartoris, Tim Schneider, Tara Rich, State Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, Nancy Wanderer and Ben Gaines, courtesy of Mainers for Accountable Leadership.)

About Dan Neumann

Avatar photoDan studied journalism at Colorado State University before beginning his career as a community newspaper reporter in Denver. He reported on the Global North's interventions in Africa, including documentaries on climate change, international asylum policy and U.S. militarization on the continent before returning to his home state of Illinois to teach community journalism on Chicago's West Side. He now lives in Portland. Dan can be reached at dan(at)

Sign up for Beacon newsletters

Our newsletter, sent each evening, curates the day's most important stories from newsrooms around Maine.