Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is signaling that President Trump should avoid picking a Supreme Court nominee that is openly pushing to overturn Roe v. Wade, instead encouraging him to choose a “centrist.”
“All of that stuff is red flags for all Americans. And I think he needs to get a jurist basically looking at the law. The Roe v. Wade has been the law for forty-some years,” Manchin told a West Virginia radio station on Friday when asked if he wanted a jurist who would overturn the 1973 Supreme Court case that established the right to an abortion.
Instead, Manchin said Trump should pick a “centrist” to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement this week. Manchin warned that it would be harder to get a nominee who wanted to overhaul the landmark decision confirmed by the Senate.
Unlike Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) — who advertises herself as “pro-choice” but has made clear Roe won’t determine her vote (meaning her pro-choice label has very little meaning) — Manchin is upfront and decisive. (“I’m pro-life. But I know how that divides our country immediately and divides everyone. They’re split right down the middle on that. If he picks somebody that’s hardcore on Roe v Wade or that hardcore on repealing health care, that’s a bigger lift. That’s going to be harder person on either side. He has to make that decision.”) And so do the senators.
It’s ironic — or tragic — that an anti-abortion senator who is on the ballot in a red state is throwing up a flare at the prospect of a justice willing to reverse Roe and recriminalize abortion but a pro-abortion-rights senator from blue Maine who isn’t on the ballot seems unwilling to draw a line in the sand, already disavowing any “litmus test.” (The Portland Press Herald quotes Eliza Townsend, executive director of the Maine Women’s Lobby, as saying, “Our most basic rights are at stake, our civil rights are at stake, our identity as a country is at stake and I am hopeful that Senator Collins will choose this moment to stand up and be counted.”
In any event, Manchin is showing independence and strength, not running for the hills because he is aware of the social upheaval that would follow reversing Roe. For that we can say well done, Sen. Manchin. Now let’s see if he sticks to his guns.