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Manchin defends Supreme Court candidate Barrett: 'It's awful to bring in religion'

Manchin defends Supreme Court candidate Barrett: 'It's awful to bring in religion'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinBiden officials hold call with bipartisan group of senators on coronavirus relief plan Harry Reid 'not particularly optimistic' Biden will push to eliminate filibuster Durbin: Senate should consider changes to filibuster MORE (D-W.Va.) defended Supreme Court candidate Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Wednesday, telling Fox News that bringing her religious beliefs into any debate is "awful."

"I'm Catholic, OK? And religion should not enter into it. It sure doesn't with me," Manchin told "Fox & Friends."

"It's awful to bring in religion. It truly is," added Manchin, who has said he does not support filling a Supreme Court vacancy before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

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Barrett, considered by many political observers to be President TrumpDonald TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 MORE's top choice to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgNYC street and subway signs transformed to welcome Biden, bid farewell to Trump Schumer and McConnell trade places, but icy relationship holds Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader MORE, has come under fire from many on the left for her conservative views.

Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts Senate Democrats file ethics complaint against Hawley, Cruz over Capitol attack Democratic senator raises concerns about inauguration security MORE (D-Hawaii) said Tuesday that Barrett's religious beliefs are fair game if they inform her decisions.

"Look, it wasn't her religious views — it's anybody's views that they bring to their decisionmaking," said Hirono, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "So they keep telling us that none of the things they wrote or said yesterday should infringe on their decision, but how can we be assured that they can be objective?"

Manchin said Wednesday that Barrett's Catholic background is irrelevant.

"Whether you're Catholic, whether you're Protestant, whether you're Jewish, evangelical, whatever it may be, God bless you. You worship who you want and you worship how you want. You worship the same God. All of us do," he said.

Barrett, who once clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, was nominated by Trump to serve on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. She was confirmed in a 55-43 vote by the Senate later that year, with support from three Democratic senators, including Manchin.

Barrett was a favorite among conservatives a year later when Trump was considering the successor to former Justice Anthony Kennedy. He ultimately chose now-Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughUndoing Trump will take more than executive orders LIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing Harris to resign from Senate seat on Monday MORE.

Trump has said he has a shortlist of five women and that he will announce his pick on Saturday at 5 p.m.