WASHINGTON — Both of West Virginia’s U.S. senators released statements Wednesday, saying they are looking forward to speaking to President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.
The remarks come in light of the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced Wednesday he will retire at the end of July. Kennedy, a conservative swing vote on the nation’s high court, has served since February 1988.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he is looking forward to evaluating the nominee.
“Senators have a responsibility to do our jobs as elected officials and this includes our Constitutional obligation to advise and consent on a nominee to fill this Supreme Court vacancy,” he said.
Manchin previously said senators should have taken the proper steps to give full consideration to then-President Barrack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016.
“Senators have a constitutional obligation to advise and consent on a nominee to fill this Supreme Court vacancy and, simply put, we have a responsibility to do our jobs as elected officials,” Manchin said after Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in January 2017.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said Kennedy is owed “a great deal of gratitude for his service,” adding the upcoming nomination is an important moment for the president.
“President Trump now has an opportunity to put forward a new, well-qualified nominee to serve in his place. He chose an exceptional candidate in Neil Gorsuch, and I was proud to support Justice Gorsuch’s nomination,” she said. “I look forward to working with the president and my colleagues through the confirmation process to ensure our next Supreme Court justice will also uphold the rule of law fairly, defend the Constitution with integrity, and represent the principles and conservative values our nation was built on.”
Capito and Manchin voted to confirm Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in April 2017. Manchin was one of three Democrats who voted in favor of Gorsuch, along with Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly and North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.
Some Democrats have asked for the vote to be held after the election in November, citing a similar tactic used by Republicans regarding the Garland nomination. Donnelly and Heitkamp, who like Manchin are up for re-election, said Wednesday they will review the qualifications of Trump’s nominee.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is running against Manchin in this year’s Senate contest, said in a statement through his office the next justice must be committed to defending individual liberty and enforcing the law as it is written.
“His successor should demonstrate a commitment to protecting individual liberty, respecting the democratic process, resisting unlawful government overreach and standing up for the rule of law,” he said. “That includes a staunch belief that the Constitution means what it says, that states are sovereign governments, that the Constitution leaves important decisions to the people and that the Bill of Rights protects people and reins in the federal government.”
The nominee will be Trump’s second to the Supreme Court. Trump previously released a list of 25 candidates for the high court, which includes 24 judges and Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.
The nominee would need 51 “yea” votes in the Senate in order to serve on the Supreme Court. Republicans have a 51-49 majority.