CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is urging Sen. Joe Manchin to support President Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Morrisey, a Republican who is challenging Manchin for his Senate seat, launched an online petition asking West Virginia voters to sign it to tell Manchin that's who they want him to support.
"West Virginians are tired of Sen. Manchin's spineless political calculation and pandering to liberal elites," Morrisey said. "West Virginia voters were clear in 2016 when they overwhelmingly elected President Trump by more than 40 points, and now they have an opportunity to remind Sen. Manchin to stand with our President and a highly-qualified Supreme Court nominee.
"Now is the time to send a clear message to Sen. Manchin: quit the pandering to liberal elites, stand with President Trump, and support the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court."
Morrisey also attacked Manchin's support of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and his history of "flip-flopping on every major issue that counts."
"I am personally very thankful that Donald Trump is in the White House, not Hillary Clinton," Morrisey said. "If Joe Manchin had his way, this would be the second radical pick that she would be allowed to make.
"I think he (Manchin) believes he must support Brett Kavanaugh, otherwise, he will be assuredly going down in defeat in November. ... What you will see over the next month, you began to see last week, is that Joe Manchin is flopping along, straddling the fence."
Morrisey said Kavanaugh had impeccable credentials.
"President Donald Trump continues to fulfill the promises he made to the American people by nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court," Morrisey said. "Judge Kavanaugh is a firm defender of the Constitution and is a highly qualified jurist with impeccable credentials."
Manchin said he would evaluate Kavanaugh's stances to make his decision.
"As the senator from West Virginia, I have a constitutional obligation to advise and consent on a nominee to fill Supreme Court vacancies and I take that responsibility seriously," Manchin said in a statement provided to The West Virginia Record. "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."
Manchin said the Supreme Court will ultimately decide if nearly 800,000 West Virginias with pre-existing conditions will lose their health care.
"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," Manchin said. "As I have always said, I believe the Senate should hold committee hearings; Senators should meet with him, we should debate his qualifications on the Senate floor and cast whatever vote we believe he deserves.
"I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh, examining his rulings and making a determination of whether to provide my consent."
Other state leaders support Trump's nomination of Kavanaugh, a District of Columbia Circuit Appeals Court. Kavanaugh, if confirmed, will replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement in June. He will retire at the end of July.
“With the nomination of conservative Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States, President Trump has selected someone with the right experience and judicial temperament who will shape the jurisprudence of our country for decades," West Virginia GOP Chairwoman Melody Potter said. "So many West Virginians supported President Trump’s election because they know the importance of appointing well-qualified conservative judges from district courts to the Supreme Court of the United States."
Potter also urged Manchin to support the nomination.
"It’s time for Sen. Joe Manchin to decide if he’s going to stand with West Virginians who overwhelmingly support President Donald Trump or stand with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, radical far-left groups and his liberal California campaign donors," Potter said.
"We know that Sen. Manchin enjoys the D.C. swamp cocktail party circuit, but he needs to listen to West Virginians and support President Trump’s nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court."
The Americans for Prosperity-West Virginia also applauded Trump for nominating Kavanaugh. AFP-WV state director Jason Huffman said the AFP will commit its full resources and permanent grassroots infrastructure to his confirmation.
"With the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump has delivered a highly qualified nominee in the mold of Justice Gorsuch — a jurist who will defend the Constitution, interpret the law as written, and not legislate from the bench," Huffman said. "Judge Kavanaugh knows that Americans don’t want an activist Supreme Court. The role of the court is to independently interpret the law, not to advance a particular political agenda or set policy."
Huffman said AFP-WV's activists across the state are urging Manchin and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito to swiftly confirm Kavanaugh.
"And we stand ready to hold lawmakers accountable who foolishly choose to put partisan politics ahead of our country’s best interests," Huffman said.
U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) called Kavanaugh a sound and conservative choice.
"Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated a strong respect for the letter of the law and the ideals set forth in our Constitution," Jenkins said. "I urge the Senate to act quickly to confirm him and fill this vacancy in our nation’s highest court."
Capito (R-W.Va.) said she believed Trump made an excellent choice in nominating Kavanaugh.
"Judge Kavanaugh has served with distinction as a federal appeals court judge, a senior adviser to President George W. Bush and a law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy," Capito said. "Throughout his service, Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated a strong commitment to the rule of law and to carefully considering the text and history of the Constitution, making him an ideal choice to be the next Supreme Court justice."
Capito said Kavanaugh has a particularly strong record of policing the separation of powers, seeking to ensure that lawmaking remains the prerogative of elected members of Congress.
"I look forward to meeting with him and remaining engaged and supportive of him during the confirmation process," Capito said.
Republican National Committee spokesman Brett Tubbs also urged Manchin to confirm Kavanaugh.
"Now that President Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, there is no question that he is a highly qualified judge who will follow the Constitution, uphold the rule of law and bring common sense to the bench," Tubbs said. "Judge Kavanaugh was initially confirmed with bipartisan support. Manchin should put political games aside and vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh."
Protect Our Care executive director Brad Woodhouse said was not pleased with the nomination.
"Make no mistake, President Trump had at least two litmus tests for Judge Kavanaugh to become his nominee for the Supreme Court: Overturn Roe v. Wade and overturn America’s health care, by gutting protections for those with pre-existing conditions," Woodhouse said. "Such a radical shift on these issues would be disastrous for women’s health and would put the health care of 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions at risk."
Woodhouse said this extreme judicial agenda, of ripping health care away from millions of people and returning to an era when women and doctors are criminals, is opposed by the vast majority of the American people.
"This nomination must be stopped and, given the previous Republican votes against repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and support for the precedent of Roe v. Wade, it can be," Woodhouse said.
Kavanaugh is a graduate of Yale Law School and former clerk to Kennedy. He received bipartisan support in 2006 for his confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was confirmed by a 57-36 vote following the nomination by President George W. Bush.