Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced Thursday afternoon that he will vote to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch for the United States Supreme Court, becoming the first Democrat to support President Donald Trump’s nominee.
In a statement Manchin said, “Senators have a constitutional obligation to advice and consent on a nominee to fill this Supreme Court vacancy and, simply put, we have a responsibility to do our jobs as elected officials…. After considering his record, watching his testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee and meeting with him twice, I will vote to confirm him to be the ninth justice on the Supreme Court.”
In recent days, dozens of Senate Democrats have vocalized opposition to Gorsuch’s nomination, many pledging to support Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s call to filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination. Besides Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is the only other Senate Democrat to publicly indicate opposition to a filibuster.
In his statement, Manchin noted Gorsuch’s qualifications and character: “During his time on the bench Judge Gorsuch has received praise from his colleagues who have been appointed by both Democrats and Republicans. He has been consistently rated as a well-qualified jurist, the highest rating a jurist can receive, and I have found him to be an honest and thoughtful man.”
Manchin concluded his statement: “I hold no illusions that I will agree with every decision Judge Gorsuch may issue in the future, but I have not found any reasons why this jurist should not be a Supreme Court Justice.”
Gorsuch’s Senate confirmation vote is set for April 6. Senate Republicans have reiterated that Gorsuch will be confirmed regardless of filibuster threats, indicating a willingness to invoke the “nuclear option,” a move that proponents have dubbed the “Reid Rule” following then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision in 2013 to change Senate rules to limit the minority political party’s ability to filibuster judicial nominations.
With Manchin’s support for Gorsuch’s nomination, Republicans will need seven more Democrat “ayes” to achieve the 60 necessary votes needed to avoid a filibuster and advance the nomination.