WASHINGTON — As U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh continues to meet with members of the Senate, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is encouraging West Virginians to send him their thoughts on the nominee.

A website and email address have been set up by Manchin’s office for constituents to comment on the federal judge.

“I take my responsibility to advise and consent on a nominee to the Supreme Court very seriously. As I did when Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch were nominated, I am evaluating Judge Kavanaugh’s record, legal qualifications, judicial philosophy and particularly, his views on health care, in particular,” Manchin said. “I encourage West Virginians to review his qualifications themselves and share their thoughts and concerns with me.”

Constituents can submit their views of Kavanaugh through a form on Manchin’s Senate website or by emailing SCOTUS@manchin.senate.gov.

President Donald Trump announced July 9 the nomination of Kavanaugh, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Kavanaugh met with multiple Republican senators last week, including Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

“I think he is an excellent choice by the president,” she said.

Manchin said on July 11’s MetroNews “Talkline” he plans on meeting Kavanaugh twice, once before Kavanaugh faces the Senate Judiciary Committee and after the hearing.

U.S. Congress

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

“He seems to be a very fine person of high moral standards, a family person who’s very involved in his community. He has all the right qualities. He’s well-educated,” the senator said. “With that, we have to just look at making sure that the rule of law and the Constitution is going to be followed, and that’s going to basically preempt everything else he does.”

Manchin visited the White House last month to talk to the president about the vacancy on the Supreme Court, which is due to the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Manchin said shortly after Trump announced his nomination of Kavanaugh he is concerned about Kavanaugh’s position on the federal health care law, specifically in regards to maintaining protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.

“The Supreme Court will ultimately decide if nearly 800,000 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions will lose their health care,” he said. “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 was one of three Democrats to vote in April 2017 to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court; the two other senators, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, are running for re-election this year, as is Manchin.

Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate, and votes for Kavanaugh from red-state Democrats would provide additional security for the confirmation to pass.

“I’ll be 71 years old in August, you’re going to whip me? Kiss my you know what,” Manchin told Politico.

West Virginia Attorney General and Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey said at a June 10 press conference he expects Manchin to vote for confirming Kavanaugh because of pressure to win this year’s Senate contest.

“At the end of the day, this is about his political survival,” Morrisey said of Manchin. “I think he believes he must support Brett Kavanaugh. Otherwise, he will be assuredly going down in defeat in November.”

West Virginia and 19 other states are involved in a lawsuit arguing the federal health care law should be ruled unconstitutional in light of the repeal of the individual mandate in last year’s tax legislation.

“There is no debate with respect with providing help to those with pre-existing conditions or catastrophic expenses,” Morrisey said. “What I would say is Joe Manchin is trying to use this issue, make it up because he knows he can’t defend the high premium costs of Obamacare, and he has been flip-flopping on that issue, as well.”

Conservative organizations Judicial Crisis Network and Americans for Prosperity and the liberal group Demand Justice have campaigns underway targeting multiple states — including West Virginia — about the confirmation vote. The anti-abortion body Susan B. Anthony List held a rally last week outside of Manchin’s Charleston office urging him to support Kavanaugh.

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