Manchin says he’d vote to confirm a justice more liberal than he is

Andrew Trunsky, DCNF

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said Thursday that he was open to confirming a Supreme Court justice that was more liberal than he is to succeed Justice Stephen Breyer.

“Whoever [President Joe Biden] puts up will have experience and we’ll be able to judge them off that,” Manchin told West Virginia MetroNews’ Hoppy Kercheval. “But as far as just the philosophical beliefs, no, that will not prohibit me from supporting somebody.”

Though there was some speculation as to whether Manchin would potentially derail a Biden nominee he thought to be too far to the left, he and Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, another centrist, have by-and-large supported the president’s judicial picks thus far, unlike some of his other priorities.

With Manchin’s support, Republicans are largely powerless to stop whomever Biden picks from getting confirmed, assuming every other Democrat votes in favor as well. Since Breyer is part of the court’s liberal wing, any new liberal justice would likely not alter the court’s 6-3 makeup.

While Manchin did not vote to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett, he voted for both Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Manchin told Kercheval Thursday that he thought it was “hypocritical” for then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to grant Barrett a confirmation hearing just days before the 2020 presidential election after denying the same to Merrick Garland months before the election in 2016.

“If we’re going to have a rule, then have a rule of civility that we agree and stick by it, but no one did,” Manchin said.

Breyer officially announced his retirement Thursday at the White House, and Biden said that he would announce a new nominee by the end of February while reaffirming his commitment to select a black woman.

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