July 25, 2018

Manchin says he's giving Kavanaugh's record a fair and thorough examination | Beckley Register Herald

To my fellow West Virginians,

As your Senator, I hold few responsibilities or obligations more sacred than my constitutional duty to advise and consent on every Presidential nominee to serve on the Supreme Court. I have never and will never immediately oppose or support a Supreme Court nominee to score cheap political points or advance my own career. I have and will continue to give every nominee — whether Democrat or Republican — a fair and thorough examination.

That’s why I meet with them, attend their judiciary hearings, consult constitutional experts and talk with my fellow West Virginians to get their thoughts and concerns. Due diligence takes time and it would be irresponsible for me to come out one way or the other this early in the process.

I have already asked you to send me your opinions on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I am listening, and I want to hear from you — your thoughts, your questions, your hopes, and your fears. On Friday, I hosted a roundtable with stakeholders in the state to hear from you, the people I’m here to represent, about what you are most concerned with or why you support him. I understand and appreciate the strong passion and enthusiasm on both sides of the debate over Supreme Court nominees and the importance of this particular vacancy, as it could impact the balance of the court for many years to come. But it has not always been like this. The extreme politicization of Supreme Court nominees is a new phenomenon.

This is just one of the many things in Washington that has become a political football — with both Democrats and Republicans at fault. The Senate was designed to be the upper chamber and a check on the House of Representatives. And unlike the House, the Senate required bills and nominees to be confirmed with 60 votes. This ensured that both parties would need to work together in a bipartisan way to reach a compromise that would benefit both parties and the American people. But in 2013, Harry Reid went nuclear and changed Senate rules in order to confirm President Obama’s nominees with a simple majority. Now, instead of choosing nominees whose philosophy is in the mainstream, a President can make a more controversial nomination and it only needs the approval of the majority party.

I was against changing the rule in 2013, and I’m still against it now. I knew then that it would lead to this hyper-partisan environment and wasn’t in line with our chamber’s responsibilities. It’s this rule that has made Supreme Court nominations so political — like, in 2016, when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland. Senator Mitch McConnell wouldn’t even meet with him or give him fair consideration, and I thought that was wrong.

Now, instead of thoughtful consideration, both sides are spending millions of dollars on advertising and digging into their trenches. But Supreme Court nominations have not always been this way. In 1986, the Senate confirmed late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia 98-0 and just seven years after that, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed by the Senate 96-3. Ultimately, during his tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia ended up being on the extreme opposite end of Justice Ginsburg in their jurisprudence. Yet, both enjoyed almost unanimous confirmation by the Senate. What’s more is the late Senator Robert C. Byrd voted for both of them.

We are a passionate state, so I’m not surprised that so many of you have contacted me with your opinions and I appreciate all of your enthusiasm during this time. I believe the only way to make a decision that will benefit our state and our nation is to give Judge Kavanaugh fair consideration. And throughout the process I will be listening to you, meeting with you, and taking your concerns to Judge Kavanaugh myself when I meet with him.

By:  Senator Joe Manchin