Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on Thursday that he’s open to supporting a Supreme Court nominee that is ideologically further to the left than him.
“It’s not too hard to get more liberal than me. So it would not bother me having a person who was sound in their thought process, who had been sound in their disbursement of justice and the rule of law, just because their personal beliefs [are different],” Manchin said during an interview with West Virginia MetroNews’s Hoppy Kercheval.
“As far as just the philosophical beliefs, no, that will not prohibit me from supporting somebody,” Manchin added.
Manchin’s comments come as Justice Stephen Breyer formally announced his intention to retire this summer, assuming his successor has been confirmed by the Senate.
The decision gives President Biden his first chance to fill a Supreme Court vacancy before the November midterm elections, where control of the Senate hangs in the balance.
Democrats could confirm whoever Biden picks without GOP support as long as they keep all 50 of their caucus members united and have Vice President Harris break a tie. Though Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) were under a spotlight as hurdles to both Build Back Better legislation and filibuster reform, Biden’s judicial nominees have been a unifier for the Senate Democratic Caucus.
Manchin said during Thursday’s interview that he would look at the “qualifications” of whomever Biden nominates and “make sure that the rule of law” is the “Bible” for the president’s pick.
“What you want is someone, forget the philosophical beliefs they may have, is basically how they have dispersed justice, their record. … It will be the character of the person,” Manchin added.
Manchin voted for two of former President Trump’s Supreme Court justices — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — and against Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination, noting that it came in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election after Republicans refused to take up now-Attorney General Merrick Garland’s nomination in 2016.
Sinema, who also opposed Barrett’s nomination, said in a statement on Thursday that she would make her decision based on three criteria “whether the nominee is professionally qualified, believes in the role of an independent judiciary, and can be trusted to faithfully interpret and uphold the rule of law.”