Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said Thursday he could vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee with a more liberal philosophy than his own, a positive signal for President Joe Biden as he prepares to name a successor to retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.

The nominee’s philosophical beliefs “will not prohibit me from supporting somebody,” he said in an interview in his home state of West Virginia.

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Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Alex Brandon/Associated Press

“Right now it’s pretty much a 6-3 court,” Manchin told host Hoppy Kercheval on MetroNews radio when asked if he could support someone more liberal than he is. “So no matter what the philosophical beliefs of this person may be, that’s not going to change the decisions or the makeup of it.”

Manchin has bucked his party on key parts of Biden’s agenda and is a pivotal vote in the 50-50 Senate. Biden will be able to get his nominee confirmed with a simple majority – if Democrats can stay unified.

Democrats have been working on a strategy to move the president’s yet-to-be-named nominee through the confirmation process quickly. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee were set to hold a meeting on Thursday.

While Republicans are expected to mount an onslaught of attacks on the nominee along with outside allies, their options for blocking or delaying Biden’s pick are limited since the GOP eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees when they last controlled the Senate.


Manchin has voted to confirm every one of Biden’s picks for lower court openings. He said Thursday that for the Supreme Court he’d focus more on a nominee’s record and ability to work with the other justices, and their character.

“It’s not too hard to get more liberal than me,” he said. “So it would not bother me having a person who was sound in their thought process and been sound in their dispersement of justice and the rule of law.”

Manchin said he takes the process “very serious” and noted he met with all of former President Donald Trump’s nominees. He said he found all of them competent and qualified. He voted for Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, but against confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett because of the timing of Barrett’s confirmation so close to the 2020 presidential election given what Republicans did in 2016 in blocking a vote on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland.

“The bottom line was, you know, you look at the qualifications and the person is competent to do the job,” Manchin said. “I’m looking forward to whoever that person is going to be, make sure that the rule of law is the Bible that they go by.”

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