CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin insisted Thursday he wouldn’t vote to approve U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland if he had an anti-fossil fuels agenda.

“If he’s adamantly entrenched in being in opposition to fossil, there’s no way I’d be able to support him,” Manchin said before holding a town hall public forum Thursday in downtown Charleston.

Controversy surrounding Garland’s political policies have been over his stance on Second Amendment rights and the role of the federal EPA.

One of the last Supreme Court decisions the late Antonin Scalia was alive for was a stay on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan earlier this year.

Before the meeting, Manchin said a fair discussion was necessary before making a decision on whether to approve Garland.

“Whether you like the president or whoever you like or don’t like in the political arena, they serve a term. I guess you’re wanting to say you pay a person for four years, and only have them work for three,” Manchin said.

Manchin criticized GOP members of the Senate who were not willing to discuss Garland’s credentials.

“They don’t even want to talk to the person. I don’t play politics that way,” he said. “I’m probably the least partisan person; I believe in the principles of democracy. Basically we have to go through this process and I’m not afraid to do that.”

Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper agreed that Garland, at very least, deserves the courtesy of a vote.

“He deserves an up or down vote, and the Senate ought to vote on it. Then, if they vote him down that’s fine. That’s their prerogative,” said Carper.

Charleston resident Perry Bryant was impressed with Garland’s credentials, but did not want to see the Supreme Court become a forum for partisan politics.

“All too frequently we’ve ended up with an activist court, either on the left or the right. It seems to me that the Judiciary (Branch) ought to be not the place that we fight out public policy,” Bryant said. “They should be there to interpret the law. We should have these political fights in the Legislative and Executive Branch.”

Anne Fishkin, of South Charleston, wanted to see Garland approved.

“I feel he’s very well qualified. And I think there’s no precedent for waiting this long to have a Supreme Court Justice be approved, or even be heard,” she said.

Garland was nominated by President Obama last week to replace Scalia, who died last month in Texas.

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