Collins: Trump shortlist has judges 'I could not vote for'

Sen. Susan Collins discusses her take on the Supreme Court vacancy and the future of Roe v. Wade with Martha Raddatz on "This Week."
10:27 | 07/01/18

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Transcript for Collins: Trump shortlist has judges 'I could not vote for'
And joining me now is senator Susan Collins of Maine. Senator, I want to STA with your meeting with president trp. You along with fe other key senators met with him Thursday to talk about the supreme court vacancy. We know the interview process with potential nominees is about to get under way. What did you tell the president you we looking for in a nominee? I TD him that I was looking for a nominee that would demonstrate a respect for precedent, a long-standing and vital tenent of our judicial system. I also suggested he broaden the search beyond the list of 25 nomies. The white house council told me that there have been a few additional potential nominees added to that list, but I think the president should not feel bound by that list and instead should seek out commendations to ensure that he gets the best ssible person. Did you get the sense he is bound by that list and is ere anything that the president said to you that concns you? Well, I don't want to get into the details of what was a private discussion. I was glad to hear that the list had been broadened somewhat, that five additional people had been addedo it, and that the president was listening to the five of us who had been asked to come to the white house and talk with him Abo what qualities that we would seek. Obviously I mentioned judicial temperament, integrity, intellect, experience, qualifications, fidelity to the rule of law and the constitution, but most important of all, respect for precedent. And I know you don't want to divulge any private conversations but what sense did you get from the president about the kind of nominee he's looking for? The president listened very intently to what Lisa murkowski and said, and I got E feeling that he was still deliberang and had not yet reached a decision and that this was genuine outreach on his part. You know, you talk about that LI of 25. That list was ma public and I know you said you wanted the list expanded. The president has said he's going toalk to six or seven people, but was theranybody on that lisof those 25 that you outright objected to? There are people on that list whom I could not suppo because I believe that they have demonstrated a disrespect for the vital principle of sorry decises which has chief Roberts has said is a ndamental principle of our judicial system that promotes ev-handedness and stability. I'm not going to go into which ones those are but there are people on that list whom I could not vote for. Do you believe the coirmation has to take place before the mid-terms? You've heard Democrats talk about the Mcconnell role when presidt Obama wanted his nominee to have a confirmation hear in 2016. Does this have to take place, in your view, before the mid-terms? Well first let me say that I strongly disagreed with leader Mcconnell's decision to not proceed with a vote on president Obama's nominee, merit Garland. I thought that was wrong and I said so publicly. When I look at the average amnt of time between the nominee beinsent to us and when there is a vote on the nominee, is 67 days. So we've just tered July. That would bring us into September, and that would allow a nominee to be confirmed before the supreme court reconvenes in early October. So I don't think that's an unreasonable goal. This is not a case where a nominee is being put forth right before a presidential election and right now I see no reason why we can't meet the deadline of getting someone on the court so that the court will be at fulltrength by October -- the October convening. You know, you voted last ye to confirm justice Gorsuch to replace justice Scalia, but that real didn't alter the idealogical balance of the court. That really could happen this time, especial for the future of cases like roe V. Wade. You talked about precedent. You support abortion rights. What will you do to ensure that remains in place with the nominee? I'm going to have an in-depth discussion with the nominee and I believe very much that roe V. Wade is settled law as it has been described by chief juste Roberts. It has been establisheas a constitutional right for 46 years -- 45 years, and was reaffirmed 26 years ago. So a nominee's position on whether not they respect precedent will tell me a lot about whether or not they would overturn roe V. Wade. A candidate fothis important position who would overturn roe V. Wade would not be acceptable to me because that would indicate an activi agenda that I don't want to see a judge have. And that would indicate to me a failure to respect precedent, a fundamental tenet of our judicial system. I want to play something president trumsaid from the 2016 -- the final presidential debate about roe V. De. Let's listen. Do you want to see the court overturn roe V. Wade? Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that's really what's going T be -- that's what will happen, and that will happen automatically in my opinio because I am putting pro-life justices on thcourt. The president was of course ve explicit there, but this week on fox he seemed to change his tune. Let's listen. Are you going to ask Yo nominee beforehand how they might vote on roe V. Wade? That's a big one and probably not. They're all saying don't do that, you don't do that, you shouldn't do that, but I'm putting conservative people on. So senator Collins, do you trust that he wouldn't want to make sure roe is overturned? Well, as I said, I don't like to go into the details of my conversation with the esident, but he did tell me that he would not be asking th question, and indeed it would be inappropriate to ask a judge nominee how they are going to vote in a future discussion of precedent however is very import. What I want to see is a nominee who regardless of his or her personal views on thvery difficult and contentious life issue is going to respect precedent regardless. I've had a number of judges who say to me that good judges are always unhappy with some of their decisions but theyake the right ll regardless of their personal views, and that's what I want to S in this nominee Senat Collins, I want to turn quickly to immigration. I'm sure you've seen the protests all over the nation this week. A judge ruled this week that children separated from their parents at the border must be reunited with their families within 30 days and thosender five, 14 days. Do you have confidence this administration can get that done? I'm very concerned about it. I had a lengthy discussion with the secretary of homeland security and I really pressed her on this ise because so far only 500 children, it's my understanding, have been reunited with their parents and some 2,000 remain in detention centers. I think that's traumatizing to these children andontrary to our American values. Also overlooked is the fact that there are me 10,000 unaccompanied minors who came here without their children. This is a problem that goes back into the Obama adminisation when we saw a flood of unaccompanied mino coming into this country and we do not S to have a good plan for hot deal with those children either. Part of the answer is clearly working wi the leaders of the home countries, the three countries of Central America whose parents are sending these unaccompanied minors here or are accompanying them here. So that is part of the answer but I'm going to continue to press secretary Nielsen on this very important issue. It is simply inconsistent with our American values to split families. Okay, thanks so much for joining us, senator Collins. Thank you, Martha.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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