Manchin warns Trump against picking court nominee who will overturn Roe v. Wade
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is signaling that President Trump should avoid picking a Supreme Court nominee that is openly pushing to overturn Roe v. Wade, instead encouraging him to choose a “centrist.”
“All of that stuff is red flags for all Americans. And I think he needs to get a jurist basically looking at the law. The Roe v. Wade has been the law for 40-some years,” Manchin told a West Virginia radio station on Friday when asked if he wanted a jurist who would overturn the 1973 Supreme Court case that established the right to an abortion.
Instead, Manchin said Trump should pick a “centrist” to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement this week. Manchin warned that it would be harder to get a nominee who wanted to overhaul the landmark decision confirmed by the Senate.
“You give me a constitutionalist, who believes in the rule of law and is centrist and moderate. … I think it’s somebody that will go along way and be received well,” Manchin said.
Pressed if getting a justice that would help overturn the case wasn’t a priority, Manchin added that he was “pro-life” but added that abortion is a divisive issue.
“I’m pro-life. But I know how that divides our country immediately and divides everyone. They’re split right down the middle on that. If he picks somebody that’s hardcore on Roe v. Wade or that hardcore on repealing health care, that’s a bigger lift. That’s going to be harder person on either side. He has to make that decision,” Manchin said.
Though Manchin was pressed on Roe v. Wade, he argued on Friday that pre-existing conditions are his top priority at the moment.
Manchin’s comments come after he met with Trump at the White House early Thursday evening for roughly half an hour as the president seeks support for his forthcoming Supreme Court nominee.
The Democratic senator, who is running for reelection this year in a state won by Trump in 2016, said he expects Trump to pick someone “center-right.” Manchin recalled that when Trump asked what he thought about potential replacements, “I said, ‘Mr. President that’s your choice.’ “
Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo in an interview excerpt released Friday that “putting conservative people” on the Supreme Court was his priority, but said he would “probably not” ask nominees beforehand how they might vote on Roe v. Wade.
In addition to Manchin, Trump met this week with Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), who are also up for reelection in states won easily by Trump in 2016.
The three Democratic senators voted for Trump’s first Supreme Court pick, Justice Neil Gorsuch, last year and are viewed as the Democratic senators most likely to support Trump’s forthcoming nominee.
Trump also met with moderate GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) on Thursday.
The two are considered potential swing votes because they’ve broken with their party over health-care and abortion-related legislation.
Kennedy cast the deciding vote in a number of major cases and was the fifth vote in a 1992 case upholding the right to an abortion.
“If he goes with the hardcore, you know someone who is hardcore on the right to life, they have a problem, those two have a problem,” Manchin added Friday, referring to Collins and Murkowski.
Red-state Democrats are under a mountain of pressure to confirm whomever Trump selects.
The nominee is expected to be announced on July 9. The White House and Senate GOP leadership wants to get them confirmed before the next Supreme Court term starts in October.
West Virginia Attorney General and GOP Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey’s campaign immediately seized on Manchin’s comments as Republicans look to weaponize the Supreme Court fight heading toward November.
“If Sen. Joe Manchin is unwilling to support justices who will defend the sanctity of life, West Virginia voters cannot trust Manchin to stand up for life,” said Nathan Brand, a spokesman for Morrisey’s campaign.