Manchin won’t vote to set precedent for Supreme Court nomination
WASHINGTON D.C. — A West Virginia senator said Wednesday he will not be voting to set a precedent if a Supreme Court nomination is made before the election.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he is not planning to vote at this time for any nominee to fill the vacancy out of concern the Senate will not have adequate time to vet the nominee and because he believes the process is too politicized.
President Trump has said he will announce a nominee Saturday to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away last week.
Manchin held a press conference on Zoom and telephone with reporters from around the state to discuss the nomination.
He expressed his intent to vote no as a protest to how the situation is being handled, not the qualifications of the nominee.
Manchin, citing history from the Congressional Research Center, said starting Jan. 1 of any election year beginning in 1789, there have only been 13 Supreme Court justice seats that have been empty during that time.
Of the 13, nine came open during the first six months of the year. Of those nine, eight were confirmed and filled while only one was not, Manchin said.
“That was Merrick Garland,” Manchin said of the 2016 nomination by President Barack Obama which the Republican Senate majority refused to take up.
From July 1 to election day in any election year, only four vacancies on the Supreme Court have come up, Manchin said.
“Of the four none of them were confirmed and filled,” Manchin said.
Presidents John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower did not put a nominee forward close to an election, Manchin said. Only President Millard Fillmore put up a nominee, which the Senate tabled and did not consider.
“It was not ethical for them to take it up,” he said.
If this had happened in the first part of the year, Manchin said the Senate would have time to vet a candidate. However, with just over 40 days until the election, Manchin believes this is not the time.
“Right now in the most divisive and toxic atmosphere we have ever had, why do you want to throw so many flames on a divided country,” Manchin said. “Why would you want to burn it even further and scorch it now? I don’t know why. All we are asking for is to wait until the election.”
Manchin quoted many of his Republican colleagues, who in 2016 said they would not move forward on the Garland nomination 10 months before the election. However, today Republicans are saying it is the right thing to do with just over a month until the election, he said.
“It is pure politics at its worst,” Manchin said. “I guess every side is guilty of it and I am not going to partake in it. I am not going to be a part of it. I will not be voting for that reason, because it is a process I am opposed to, a process of expediting something and setting a precedent. All we are doing is further dividing our country so the tribes will be in a tribal mode. I am not for that.”
He said whatever the election brings on Nov. 3 is from where the Senate should proceed.
“That is what should be done if you want to be fair with the system,” Manchin said.
He is afraid a precedent would be set if the Senate moves forward with a vote to confirm and he does not want to set that precedent so close to an election.
Although it has varied, the average time to vet a Supreme Court nomination is around 67 days, Manchin said.
“You can’t rush it through, because things come up,” he said.
Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden has not released a list of people he would consider nominating to the Supreme Court. Manchin believes Biden should support Garland.
“He is one of the most accredited non-partisan jurists we have had,” Manchin said.