Mr. Manchin, West Virginia Democrat and a key swing vote in the 50-50 split Senate, told a radio station in his home state that political differences would not be a deciding factor when choosing whether to back President Biden‘s pick for the high court.
“It’s not too hard to get more liberal than me,” Mr. Manchin told West Virginia MetroNews. “So it would not bother me having a person who was sound in their thought process, who had been sound in their disbursement of justice and the rule of law, just because their personal beliefs [are different].”
“As far as just the philosophical beliefs, no, that will not prohibit me from supporting somebody,” Manchin said. “What you want is someone, forget the philosophical beliefs they may have … It will be the character of the person.”
The president’s nominee must win confirmation from the Senate. Thanks to rule changes that defanged the filibuster for nominees, the nominee only needs a simple majority in the 50-50 split chamber, where Vice President Kamala Harris casts the tie-breaking vote.
Moderates like Mr. Manchin will be key in securing confirmation of any nominee. Republicans are not expected to fight Mr. Biden’s pick wholeheartedly given that Justice Breyer’s departure will not change the court’s 6-3 conservative lean.
“If all Democrats hang together – which I expect they will – they have the power to replace Justice Breyer in 2022 without one Republican vote in support,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican. “Elections have consequences, and that is most evident when it comes to fulfilling vacancies on the Supreme Court.”