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Manchin will vote to confirm Kavanaugh

October 7, 2018

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced his plans to vote to confirm embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Friday.

The announcement came after Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, made a floor speech announcing her support just after 3 p.m. Assuming no Senators change their minds on the confirmation, Collins’ backing solidified the chances of a passing vote this weekend, and Manchin’s was just an add-on.

Earlier Friday, the Senate passed a procedural vote 51-49 to move forward with Kavanaugh’s nomination, teeing up a Saturday confirmation vote.

On the procedural roll call, Manchin voted with Republicans, minus Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who sided with the Democrats.

In a statement, Manchin said while he harbored concerns about several allegations of sexual assault lodged against Kavanaugh, he was comfortable seating the 53-year-old federal judge on the highest court in the nation for a lifetime appointment.

“I have reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing,” Manchin said.

“And my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life. However, based on all of the information I have available to me, including the recently completed FBI report, I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him. I do hope that Judge Kavanaugh will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., announced plans to vote to confirm Kavanaugh in a statement Thursday.

Manchin, who is running for re-election against state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, kept his position on Kavanaugh close to the vest since the July 9 nomination, despite enormous political pressure from Kavanaugh’s supporters and detractors alike.

According to reporting from Politico, Manchin did not make his initial procedural vote for Kavanaugh until the result was effectively decided by Collins and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Morrisey, who announced his support for Kavanaugh the day after President Donald Trump made the nomination, predicted Manchin would wind up backing the nominee at the time. On Friday, Morrisey criticized Manchin, not for the vote itself, but for the practice of lying in wait until the outcome was clear.

“Joe Manchin only votes in the interest of Joe Manchin,” Morrisey said in a written statement. “President Trump had all the votes he needed to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh, but Manchin waited - making a craven political calculation - in order to try to save his political career.”

State Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore did not respond to multiple interview requests Thursday and Friday.

Manchin and Morrisey will go head to head on the ballot in 30 days, and the lingering question remains as to whether, or how, this will affect the race.

The vote to confirm is likely to deflate progressive Democrats in the state. Paula Jean Swearengin, a political newcomer in the primary with no substantial name recognition, wrested about 30 percent of the vote from Manchin.

In an interview Friday, she mused about what Biafore makes of Manchin’s vote.

“I wonder what the leadership in the West Virginia Democratic party, what their take is on this,” she said. “They’ve been pretty silent.”

Progressive voters, according to Swearengin, may just either stay home on election day or write in a candidate instead.

She also mentioned recent activism at Manchin’s campaign headquarters, where nine women were charged with trespassing around 1 a.m. Tuesday after they refused to leave until the Senator agreed to vote against Kavanaugh.

An ABC News reporter posted on Twitter that more protesters were arrested Friday outside his Washington D.C. office.

“A lot of people put a lot of effort in trying to sway Joe Manchin to do the right thing and he still didn’t do it,” Swearengin said.

However, this isn’t to say she’s a Morrisey supporter.

“I really hope that we don’t end up with Patrick Morrisey because of Joe Manchin’s bad actions,” she said.

Assuming he sticks with his word, Kavanaugh will be the second of Trump’s Supreme Court nominees to secure a seat on the high bench with Manchin’s blessing.

Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed with the support of Manchin and two other Senate Democrats: Sen. Joe Donnelly from Indiana and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, from North Dakota. All three of them are up for re-election in states Trump won by wide margins.

Both Donnelly and Heitkamp voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

However, Manchin hasn’t been a rubber stamp confirmation vote for Trump either. He voted against the confirmation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price; Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross; and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney..

In his statement, Manchin said he is satisfied with Kavanaugh’s jurisprudence as well.

“With respect to any cases that may come before him impacting the 800,000 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions, Judge Kavanaugh assured me personally that he would consider the human impacts and approach any decision with surgical precision to avoid unintended consequences,” he said. “That is why I voted to confirm Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to serve on the Supreme Court - because I believe he will rule in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution.”

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