GOP Sen. Collins says she will oppose controversial Trump court pick

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCoronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus MORE (R-Maine) has come out against a controversial Trump judicial pick Steven Menashi.

“I oppose the nomination of Steven Menashi to be a United States Circuit Court Judge for the Second Circuit," Collins said in a Wednesday statement. "Mr. Menashi’s past writings, particularly about women, LGBTQ advocates, and diversity, raise questions about whether he has the appropriate judicial temperament."


"It was also inappropriate for Mr. Menashi to refuse to respond to even general questions about his work in the Administration during his confirmation hearing last month," she added. "His reluctance to answer questions about the family separation policy made it difficult for me to assess his record and impeded my constitutional duty to evaluate his fitness to serve as a judge."

"After careful consideration of Mr. Menashi’s nomination with these concerns in mind, I do not believe he is well-suited to serve on the federal bench,” Collins concluded. 

She had earlier said "I intend to oppose his nomination" in a video posted Wednesday by HuffPost

Her response came to a question from an activist involved with progressive groups Demand Justice and the Center for Popular Democracy, according to the news outlet. 

"I'd like to know how you're going to vote on Menashi," the activist said.

A spokesperson for Collins confirmed in an email to The Hill on Wednesday that the senator was planning to vote against Menashi's nomination to be a judge on the 2nd Circuit.

Menashi has received bipartisan criticism after he didn't directly answer questions from senators during a confirmation hearing, including about his work in the Trump administration.

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) has also expressed skepticism about Menashi, saying the nominee could be “Oliver Wendell Scalia”  but that he couldn't vote for him unless he knows how Menashi thinks about legal matters.

“If someone gets mad at that, they need to call somebody who cares, because that is my job and I'm tired of them playing games,” Kennedy said last month. He told The Hill on Wednesday that he still hadn't made a decision on Menashi.

Before Menashi's confirmation goes to the full Senate, he needs the approval of the Judiciary Committee. Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSeveral GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Graham says he appreciates Trump orders, but 'would much prefer a congressional agreement' Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief MORE (R-S.C.) told reporters Wednesday that the committee will vote next week. 

Kennedy us a member of the Judiciary panel, while Collins is not. The panel includes 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats. If Kennedy, or another GOP senator, opposes Menashi's nomination during the committee vote he would not have enough support to clear the committee without Democratic support. Democrats have been critical of Menashi and are expected to oppose him. 

Collins is up for reelection in 2020, and The Cook Political Report has rated the race a "toss-up."

Menashi has also faced scrutiny for past writings on abortion and the morning-after pill

—Updated at 5:24 p.m. Jordain Carney contributed.