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In a Boost For Biden, Manchin Says He’s ‘Open’ to Supporting a ‘More Liberal-Leaning’ SCOTUS Justice

In a Boost For Biden, Manchin Says He’s ‘Open’ to Supporting a ‘More Liberal-Leaning’ SCOTUS Justice

Democratic centrist Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said Thursday he could vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee with a more liberal philosophy than his own, a positive signal for President Joe Biden as he prepares to name a successor to retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. The President’s nominee’s philosophical beliefs “will not prohibit me from supporting somebody,” he said in an interview in his home state of West Virginia.

President Biden has made it clear that his nominee will be a Black woman, and has already begun interviewing his potential picks, who include former Breyer clerk Ketanji Brown Jackson, U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs, and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.

“Right now it’s pretty much a 6-3 court,” Sen. Manchin told host Hoppy Kercheval on MetroNews radio when asked if he could support someone more liberal than he is. “So no matter what the philosophical beliefs of this person may be, that’s not going to change the decisions or the makeup of it.”

Democrats have been working on a strategy to move the president’s yet-to-be-named nominee through the confirmation process quickly, and those on the Senate Judiciary Committee held a meeting on Thursday. With Manchin on board, they may not have to worry about the obstruction already being transmitted by the Republicans. Manchin has broken with his party on key parts of the President’s agenda and is a key vote in the 50-50 Senate. President Biden should be able to get his nominee confirmed with a simple majority as long as Democrats can stay unified.

Manchin has voted to confirm every one of President Biden’s picks for lower court openings. He said Thursday that for the Supreme Court he’d focus more on a nominee’s record and ability to work with the other justices, and their character. “It’s not too hard to get more liberal than me,” he said. “So it would not bother me having a person who was sound in their thought process and been sound in their disbursement of justice and the rule of law.”

Manchin said he takes the process “very serious” and noted he met with all of Donald Trump’s nominees. He said he found all of them competent and qualified. He voted for Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, but against the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett because of the timing of Barrett’s confirmation so close to the 2020 presidential election given what Republicans did in 2016 in blocking a vote on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland.

“The bottom line was, you know, you look at the qualifications and the person is competent to do the job,” Manchin said. “I’m looking forward to whoever that person is going to be, make sure that the rule of law is the Bible that they go by.”

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