Manchin Should Vote to Confirm Judge Barrett
One of the most important votes that any senator can take is on the confirmation of a justice to the Supreme Court. In the weeks ahead, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin will cast a vote on the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett.
It is clear based on her experience, her qualifications, and her temperament that Judge Barrett is highly qualified to serve as an associate justice, and Senator Manchin should vote “yes” on her nomination.
The life and work of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg are a testament to service. She was a trailblazer as a law professor and advocate for years before being confirmed as a federal judge, and her career concluded with 27 years of distinguished service on the Supreme Court. While people may have different views about her judicial opinions, she led an extraordinary life.
Now the president has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the open seat on the Supreme Court. It falls on the Senate to render a judgment as to whether Judge Barrett has the temperament and qualifications to fill that seat. Looking at her work on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, her years as a law professor, and her service as a clerk on the Supreme Court, it is clear the answer is “yes.”
It’s the duty of any judge to put aside his or her personal agenda or policy preferences and rule in an impartial way, based on the Constitution and the law. When a judge gives in to the temptation to impose a desired outcome in place of the requirements of the law, he or she is narrowing our rights instead of protecting them.
Legislating from the bench deprives the people of the right spelled out in the Constitution to settle important policy questions for ourselves, often through our elected representatives. Instead, we are left with an outcome imposed by a court — one that leaves many people frustrated, and which may prove difficult or impossible to correct.
This approach recognizes that under our Constitution, it is the responsibility of Congress to write the laws that govern the country. It falls on the executive branch to administer and enforce those laws. Under the system of checks and balances spelled out in the Constitution, the judiciary is charged both with resolving disputes between private actors and resolving constitutional disputes. All three branches have a duty to act as a check and balance against the others. The judiciary usually acts last.
Amy Coney Barrett has demonstrated that she understands how important it is for judges to adhere to this role and fulfill the responsibilities that accompany it. She has distinguished herself throughout her legal career, earning the respect of legal scholars, students, and colleagues. And during her tenure on the Seventh Circuit, she has vindicated Senator Manchin, who joined with a bipartisan majority of the Senate to confirm her to that position.
While Senator Shelley Moore Capito has noted Judge Barrett’s qualifications, Senator Manchin has said he will not vote to confirm if her nomination is considered before November 3. But if a nominee is qualified — and this one clearly is — then she is qualified regardless when the vote occurs.
It would be a mistake to defeat the nomination of a judge so eminently qualified to serve on the highest court in the land. Senator Manchin should be guided less by politics and more by his constitutional responsibility as a senator to say “yea” or “nay” on the president’s nominees.
In the case of Judge Barrett, it should be a resounding “yea.”
Jason Huffman is state director of Americans for Prosperity-West Virginia.