West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said Thursday that he was receptive to the idea of 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 said. “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 perceived to be too far to the left, he and Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, another centrist, have supported the president’s judicial picks, unlike some of his other priorities.
With Manchin’s support, Republicans are powerless to block whomever Biden picks from getting confirmed, should every other Democrat vote in favor as well. Since Breyer is part of the court’s liberal wing, any new liberal justice would likely not change 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 said 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 he had denied Merrick Garland the same only 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 maintaining his commitment to select a black woman.