Capito explains preferred qualifications of next US Supreme Court justice

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is looking forward to hearing from President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee as well as meeting the person.

Biden will nominate someone to replace Justice Stephen Breyer later this month. Breyer announced his retirement from the Supreme Court on Jan. 27, in which he will bring his 28 years with the high court to a close when the current term concludes.

“I’m looking for a qualified candidate who knows the law, who’s well-respected in the legal community, who has judicial experience, [and] who is on the record with decisions so I can read them and analyze them,” Capito told reporters last week.

Capito voted to confirm former President Donald Trump’s three nominees to the Supreme Court: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is responsible for holding hearings on judicial nominations. Capito is not a committee member; she said she plans to review the nominee’s testimony, but she also wants to meet the person in private.

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (File)

“I’m going to ask for any preconceived notions on judgments that would be made. Because for me, that’s a red flag. I think we need someone who is going to adhere to our Constitution strictly and is not going to be put on the bench to make the law,” she said. “That’s our job here in the Senate and the House [of Representatives].”

Biden met last week with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, regarding the nomination process. The White House stressed following the meeting Biden’s commitment to seeking bipartisan advice on a nominee.

Biden also announced additional advisors, including former Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, a conservative Democrat who served in the Senate from January 2018 to January 2021.

Capito noted the confirmation process may be slower than what some may want.

“These are very, very important decisions that will be coming before us,” she said.

As a presidential candidate, Biden pledged to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. He described such nomination as “long overdue” during remarks at the White House.

Capito recognized the historical significance of the possible choice, but she additionally shared concerns about the president nominating someone to fulfill a commitment made on the campaign trail.

“I think it begs the question does it politicize it more since it was a campaign promise, but we’ll move forward from that,” she said.

Capito added, “I think he’s following through on that promise, so I’m not surprised that that’s what he’s going to do, and I welcome the chance to interview his candidate. I don’t really have an opinion on if he should have made the promise. I probably wouldn’t have done that, but that’s what he did.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has also shared a desire to meet with the nominee. He said he would support someone who is “sound in their thought process” and committed to the rule of law.

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