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Capito, Morrisey welcome Trump’s SCOTUS pick

July 12, 2018

Chris Dorst/HD Media Pro-abortion rights supporters demonstrate in front of Manchin’s office Tuesday in opposition to Kavanaugh’s selection to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

CHARLESTON - U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and the Republican campaigning to serve alongside her each signaled this week their support for President Donald Trump’s second nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is running for re-election in November against state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, did not indicate one way or another in a statement released Monday evening. Instead, he said he would evaluate Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record, while also invoking current Justice Neil Gorsuch and President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.

“Just as I did when Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch were nominated, I will evaluate Judge Kavanaugh’s record, legal qualifications, judicial philosophy and particularly his views on health care,” he said.

Manchin voted for Gorsuch, as did two other Democratic senators running for re-election in states Trump won by wide margins. In 2016, Senate Republicans shelved Garland’s March nomination, citing its proximity to the 2016 presidential election.

Through a spokesman, Manchin declined an interview request.

Capito, however, expressed robust support for Kavanaugh, a Yale Law School graduate, sitting circuit judge and former counsel to President George W. Bush.

“I was at the White House last evening, and I thought the president made an excellent pick,” she said. “I think Kavanaugh talked about his judicial philosophy of not making law, but interpreting the Constitution and having respect for equal branches of the government. So I’m very encouraged. I look forward to meeting with him and having a longer conversation.”

A focal point of Senate Democrats through the early stages of the nomination process has been the court’s Roe v. Wade decision, delineating a constitutional right for women to choose abortions. When asked about the notion of overturning Roe or other landmark decisions, Capito said Kavanaugh has indicated a respect for precedent in interpreting the Constitution, which she deemed an “important signal” of where he might be.

“I feel confident that he will be a justice that will look at each case individually and be fair-minded about it,” she said. “I don’t expect him to be an outlier or a new creative kind of justice. I think he’s going to be respectful of what Justice Kennedy did, which was to look at each case as it came through. He was his clerk, and I think he has respect for that.”

Morrisey on Tuesday praised Trump for the pick and announced his support for Kavanaugh while leaning into Manchin, accusing him of “fence straddling” on key issues.

Morrisey, as did Capito, speculated that Manchin would wind up voting to confirm.

“I fully expect Sen. Joe Manchin to support Brett Kavanaugh, and here’s why, because, at the end of the day, this is about his political survival,” he said.

In 2006, then-U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., voted to confirm Kavanaugh for his current seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Washington, D.C., circuit after Bush nominated him. Then-U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., did not vote.

In Manchin’s Monday statement, he continued a theme of reframing the conversation around the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

Although he did not mention it by name, Manchin cited a lawsuit Morrisey signed onto as attorney general that challenges the ACA’s constitutionality, now that the recently passed GOP tax reform package revoked the individual mandate portion of the ACA.

“The Supreme Court will ultimately decide if nearly 800,000 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions will lose their health care,” he said in his statement. “This decision will directly impact almost 40 percent of my state, so I’m very interested in his position on protecting West Virginians with pre-existing conditions.”

Responding to the line, Morrisey said while he favors a repeal of the ACA, people with pre-existing medical conditions should not be charged more than those without.

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