Manchin would not back Supreme Court confirmation right before 2024 election

U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Chariman U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) attends a U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 1, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

February 15, 2022

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said on Monday he would not support a Senate vote to confirm President Joe Biden’s pick for a Supreme Court seat if a vacancy opened up right before the 2024 presidential election.

Manchin, who often clashes with his own party, told reporters his view was consistent with his view when Republican President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court a little over a month before the 2020 presidential election.

Manchin voted against Barrett’s confirmation, though he said he had supported her nominations for a previous post. He added it would be “hypocritical” for him to support a similar move by Biden.

Manchin has emerged as a key vote in the evenly divided Senate, willing to buck Biden and the Democratic party by opposing nominees and legislation, including Biden’s priority social spending bill.

Biden is expected to name his first pick for a Supreme Court seat at the end of the month, after Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement. Biden has pledged to nominate a Black woman to the seat.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who could return to power as majority leader in that chamber if Republicans win in the 2022 midterm elections that decide control of Congress, has said he would block any Supreme Court confirmations if a vacancy opened up before the 2024 presidential election.

He also was noncommittal when asked, in the same interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, if he would allow a confirmation vote in 2023 if Republicans held the Senate majority.

In 2016, when Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia died during then-President Barack Obama’s term, Senate Republicans refused to consider Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, who now serves as the attorney general.

The move held little precedent in U.S. history, but cleared the way for Trump to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the seat, the first of three justices he named to the Supreme Court, giving it a 6-3 conservative majority.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Mary Milliken and Stephen Coates)

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