Sen. Susan Collins talks to reporters about the Supreme Court nomination of federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 17, 2018. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine) on Sunday criticized President Biden’s handling of the Supreme Court vacancy that will be left by Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement as “clumsy at best.”

Biden promised to nominate the first black woman to the Supreme Court during the spring 2020 presidential primaries. Now, with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer retiring, Biden will have the opportunity to fill a vacancy on the High Court and says he plans to honor his promise.

“I would welcome the appointment of a Black female to the court,” Collins said during an appearance on ABC’s This Week. “I believe that diversity benefits the Supreme Court. But the way that the president has handled this nomination has been clumsy at best. It adds to the further perception that the court is a political institution like Congress when it is not supposed to be.”

Pressed by @GStephanopoulos on how Pres. Biden’s handling of a Supreme Court nomination is different from his predecessors, @SenatorCollins says his campaign vow to nominate a Black woman “helped politicize the entire nomination process.”

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 30, 2022

Host George Stephanopoulos then asked: “You say that it’s clumsy. But isn’t, as Senator Durbin pointed out, isn’t it exactly what President Reagan did when he said he would appoint a woman to the Supreme Court? Isn’t it exactly what President Trump did when he said he would appoint a woman to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg?”

Collins replied that it “isn’t exactly the same” because “what President Biden did was as a candidate, make this pledge. And that helped politicize the entire nomination process. What President Reagan said is, as one of his Supreme Court justices, he would like to appoint a woman. And he appointed a highly qualified one in Sandra Day O’Connor.”

A new ABC News/ Ipsos poll found that 76 percent of Americans want Biden to consider “all possible nominees,” while only 23 percent want him to automatically follow through on his promise to nominate a black woman.

Just 28 percent of nonwhite Americans want Biden to consider only black women for the soon-to-be open seat, the poll found. Even a majority of Democrats — 54 percent — prefer that Biden weigh all possible nominees.

The list of likely candidates includes federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a former Breyer law clerk, and Leondra Kruger, a justice on California’s Supreme Court. Jackson received bipartisan support for her federal court nomination, including from Collins.

Biden’s nominee would not need bipartisan support as long as she earns the endorsement of all 50 Democrats, though Stephanopoulos asked Collins if she would support Jackson.

“I’ll certainly give her every consideration. I have no idea since she was confirmed what ruling she’s been involved in, what writing she has done and I have not met her personally,” she said. “And that’s why I really appreciated Chairman Durbin reaching out to me and offering to make the nominee available for an extensive interview and to provide me with whatever information I need to make a decision on whomever the nominee is.”

During her appearance on This Week, Collins also said she is “very unlikely” to support former President Trump if he chooses to run again in 2024 “given the many other qualified candidates that we have that have expressed interest in running.”

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