Manchin Should Back Nominee

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., will be a key figure in the battle over whether the Senate confirms President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Let us hope Manchin breaks with those in his party who see the decision as a political one.

On Monday, Trump introduced his nominee to fill the high court vacancy created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. The president’s pick is Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 53, who has served 12 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Democrat leaders had made it clear even before the announcement that they would support no one nominated by Trump. The party’s Senate leader, New Yorker Chuck Schumer, based his opposition on specific concerns. He fears that if Kavanaugh is confirmed by the Senate, the high court will overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that expanded access to abortions in the United States. Schumer also says the nomination is an attempt to have the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — declared unconstitutional.

Manchin is among a handful of Democrat senators analysts have mentioned as critical votes in the confirmation battle. In that light, what the senator from West Virginia thinks is important.

And what he thinks is the wrong approach.

In a press release, Manchin singled out just one issue, how Kavanaugh might vote in Obamacare-related cases. The court “will ultimately decide if nearly 800,000 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions will lose their healthcare,” the senator explained.

Health care is important. No question about that.

But defending the Constitution — that is, ensuring what the legislative and executive branches of government do is in accordance with the critical safeguard of our liberties — is vital.

For decades, some appeals court judges and justices ignored their responsibility to the Constitution. They prefered to engage in social engineering, deciding the Constitution meant what they desired.

It does not. If a substantial majority of Americans decide the Constitution should be amended, that can be done. The nation’s founders were right to insist that such decisions be made by the people.

Kavanaugh has said that if confirmed to the Supreme Court, his allegiance will be to the Constitution as it is written, not to his personal preferences. That is precisely what the nation needs.

That, not how Kavanaugh may rule on any single issue, ought to be Manchin’s concern. And if he determines the nominee will be an impartial arbiter, Manchin should vote for confirmation.

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