Manchin faces criticism for decision to confirm Kavanaugh to U.S. Supreme Court

By Chris Dickerson | Oct 8, 2018

Sen. Joe Manchin (left, Mikey Day) reacts after hitting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Alex Moffat) in the groin following the Kavanaugh vote on the Oct. 6 episode of "SNL."   NBC

CHARLESTON – Both U.S. Senators from West Virginia voted in favor of federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh becoming a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

There wasn’t much doubt that Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, would cast her vote for Kavanaugh. That wasn’t the case for Sen. Joe Manchin, the lone Democrat to vote for the former Washington D.C. District Court Judge.

And when news of his plan to vote for Kavanaugh came out, there were mixed reactions. But most people seemed to be unhappy with Manchin's decision.

West Virginia Republican Party Chairwoman Melody Potter praised Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but she was critical of Manchin’s vote.


“I'm glad that Senator Joe Manchin decided to listen to the overwhelming number of West Virginians who support the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” Potter said. “Unfortunately, in typical Joe Manchin style, he waited until Kavanaugh's confirmation was imminent before announcing his position.

“Manchin waited until the outcome was known, the votes counted, the results were imminent, and then piled on. That is not leadership.”

Potter also said Manchin’s actions show why West Virginians need to vote for current state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey against Manchin next month.

“We need a leader like Patrick Morrisey, who has been steadfast in supporting President Trump's nominee, representing us in the U.S. Senate,” Potter said. “Morrisey is a bold conservative leader, who will fight alongside President Trump and not cower from making the tough decisions that are best for West Virginians.”

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee echoed Potter’s sentiments.

“Joe Manchin’s vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh was illustrative of his lack of conviction,” Brett Tubbs said. “He waited until the votes were in before he announced his support and we deserve better. West Virginians deserve a senator that will stand up for our values no matter the political implications.

“Thankfully, we can replace him with Patrick Morrisey next month.”

The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia criticized Manchin and Capito for their votes.

“Based on his testimony and performance in the Senate Judiciary hearing, it is clear that Judge Kavanaugh lacks the temperament and commitment to impartiality that is required of a justice on the Supreme Court,” Joseph Cohen said. “His willingness to participate in partisan rhetoric casts a shadow over an institution that is historically removed from politics.

“This past Thursday, West Virginia sexual assault survivors met with both Senator Capito’s staff and directly with Senator Manchin in D.C. These brave individuals shared their personal stories of assault with hope that it would resonate and inform their representatives’ vote. Unfortunately, neither Manchin nor Capito responded in a way that reflects the power of this moment and movement. We are extremely disappointed in both Senators Manchin and Capito for misrepresenting the interests of their constituency by eroding the legitimacy of the Supreme Court in their confirmation vote for Judge Kavanaugh. Sexual assault survivors and West Virginians deserve better.”

National commentators also criticized Manchin.

“I have to say, I don't know if Joe Manchin has been a profile in political courage in all of this,” Fox News’ Chris Wallace said.

“Joe Manchin only announced his yes vote after Collins announced she’d vote yes for Kavanaugh,” Mark Levin tweeted. “Manchin is a profile in gutlessness.”

“"I noticed that Manchin made his decision 2 seconds, or a beat right after Collins,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews tweeted. “He represents West Virginia, not Maine."

The president’s son also weighed in.

“A real profile in courage from Lyin’ liberal @JoeManchinWV,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted. “Waited until Kavanugh had enough votes secured before he announced his support. I bet he had another press release ready to go if Collins went the other way.”

And, Manchin’s vote was mentioned in a skit about the Kavanaugh vote Oct. 6 on “Saturday Night Live.”

The skit was set in the Republican “locker room” after the vote. The Republican senators were celebrating the confirmation. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (portrayed by Kate McKinnon) praised Manchin for having “scored in his own goal.” Minutes later, Manchin (played by Mikey Day) walks past Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Alex Moffat), who tries to explain there are no hard feelings about Manchin’s vote before Manchin does a “nut check,” hitting Schumer in the groin and walking away laughing.

Morrisey called Manchin’s decision to support Kavanaugh a “craven political calculation.”

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

“Spending months on the sideline, Manchin allowed Senate Democrats and the liberal media to orchestrate a resist and obstruct circus to smear President Trump's Supreme Court nominee. Manchin owes West Virginia an apology for watching, doing nothing, as Democrats sought to destroy Judge Brett Kavanaugh.”

Manchin announced his decision Oct. 5. He was one of the final holdouts to announce his vote. The actual Senate vote on Kavanaugh came Oct. 6. Kavanaugh was confirmed on a 50-48 vote.

“From the start of the process, I promised my constituents that I would look seriously at Judge Kavanaugh’s record and cast my vote based on the facts I have before me and what is best for West Virginia,” Manchin said in a statement. “I met with the nominee for over two hours, attending his hearings, spoke with constitutional experts and heard from thousands of West Virginians.

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

Manchin also mentioned the possibility of Kavanaugh hearing cases that could affect the more than 800,000 West Virginians with pre-existing medical conditions.

“Judge Kavanaugh assured me personally that he would consider the human impacts and approach any decision with surgical precision to avoid unintended consequences,” Manchin 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."

Morrisey, a Republican who is looking to oust the Democrat from his Senate seat, said Manchin still sides with liberals.

“When it matters most, Joe Manchin is with Hillary Clinton for President, Chuck Schumer and Obama for gun control, and is voting with Nancy Pelosi for amnesty for illegal immigrants,” Morrisey said. “West Virginians and President Trump can't trust Joe Manchin to fight for our values because he is simply just another dishonest Washington liberal.”

Morrisey also praised Trump and Kavanaugh.

“I'm thankful President Trump is in the White House to nominate strong constitutionalist judges, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh is going to be an extraordinary Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court,” Morrisey said. “While West Virginians knew that President Trump would nominate exceptional judges, Joe Manchin stood with Hillary Clinton and her agenda to fill our courts with radicals. 

“Joe Manchin was with Hillary Clinton then, and today, he is out for himself, desperately trying to save his re-election.”

Morrisey noted that the Washington Examiner reported Oct. 5 that Schumer’s Senate Majority PAC will support Manchin regardless of his Kavanaugh vote, calling it a “clear and desperate effort” to try to give Democrats a majority next year.

“Schumer's Senate Majority PAC and its affiliates have already spent or booked $11.2 million dollars to prop up Joe Manchin in an effort to hand Democrats control of the Senate this election,” Morrisey said. “Manchin currently serves as a member of Chuck Schumer's Democrat Senate leadership team.”

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