Joe Manchin Helped Overturn Roe v. Wade; Elizabeth Warren Helped Get Him Re-Elected

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The U.S. Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade in a likely 5-4 decision next month, sending abortion law back to the states.

The decision was made possible because then-President Donald Trump added three anti-Roe justices to the Supreme Court:  Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. 

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) opposed all three of them being confirmed to the Supreme Court, but she supported someone who voted to confirm two of those three justices when he ran for re-election in 2018:  U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).

Warren, a pro-legal-abortion Democrat, has said that she is “mad as hell” that the Supreme Court appears ready to overturn Roe v. Wade. Ideologically, she is much different from Manchin.

Manchin, a pro-life Democrat, represents one of the most Republican-leaning states in the country. He is generally considered a conservative Democrat in the U.S. Senate. And yet, when he was up for re-election in 2018, Warren didn’t endorse his progressive primary challenger; then she endorsed Manchin in the general election.

Manchin trounced his progressive challenger Paula Jean Swearengin, 70 percent to 30 percent in the Democratic primary.

Warren ignored Swearengin, and one month after Manchin won that primary, she endorsed his re-election bid.

“Last year, when the fate of health care for millions of Americans hung in the balance, Joe stepped up to the plate and voted to protect the Affordable Care Act,” Warren wrote in an email message to supporters in June 2018. “And he stood strong when Republicans jammed their tax scam through Congress. We may not agree on everything, but Joe fights from the heart for the working people he represents.”

Manchin won the general election over West Virginia attorney general Patrick Morrisey, 49.6 percent to 46.3 percent.

In 2018, the Democratic Party had a slim path to gain the majority. Many political analysts noted that if Democrats were to take the majority, they needed Manchin to win West Virginia. 

It’s the same election cycle in which Manchin helped Trump add two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In April 2017, Manchin voted to confirm Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch replaced Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016; Republicans who controlled the Senate had refused to hold hearings for then-president Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. That allowed Trump to nominate Gorsuch after Trump became president.

Gorsuch was confirmed 54-45.

Manchin said that he thought Gorsuch was well-qualified for the Supreme Court post.

“During his time on the bench Judge Gorsuch has received praise from his colleagues who have been appointed by both Democrats and Republicans,” Manchin said in a statement at the time. “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. 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.”

A year-and-a-half later, Manchin voted to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in October 2018. Kavanaugh replaced Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court; Manchin was the only Democrat to vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

“I have reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing and my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life,” Manchin wrote at the time. “However, based on all of the information I have available to me, including the recently completed FBI report, I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him. I do hope that Judge Kavanaugh will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court.”

Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48.

However, Manchin did not vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Barrett replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Ginsburg died in September 2020 and Barrett was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in October 2020.

Manchin said his concern wasn’t about Barrett herself, but rather the process that was used to confirm her.

Manchin said that he thought the process was rushed and that the Republican Party should not have confirmed a judge at a time when many people had already cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential election.

“Today the Senate took unprecedented action never before seen in the 240 year history of our country, but it didn’t have to be this way. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans chose a dangerous, partisan path to push through the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett eight days before this year’s November 3rd election further politicizing the highest court in the land,” Manchin said in a written statement “The facts are clear — never before has the president nominated and the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court justice between July and Election Day in a presidential election year.”

Barrett was confirmed 51-48.

Warren’s press office could not be reached for comment on Wednesday or Thursday this week.


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