Manchin opposes expanding Supreme Court, ending filibuster

WASHINGTON — The moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia won’t vote for expanding the size of the U.S. Supreme Court or ending the filibuster.

“No way, shape or form,” Manchin said.

Republicans, fearing losing control of the upper chamber, are using the prospect of Democrats packing the Supreme Court and eliminating the filibuster to influence the runoff election for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, Manchin said.

Since no one received a majority in the election for Senate in Georgia on Nov. 3, a runoff election will be held Jan. 5 between the top two finishers for the full term and for an unexpired term.

Democratic victories for the Senate in Georgia would result in 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans and the Democrats taking control as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would cast the deciding vote when there is a tie.

The threat that Democrats will expand the number of justices to stack the Supreme Court or eliminate the filibuster is a “scare tactic” by the Republicans, Manchin said.

If the Democrats should win the seats in Georgia, which is possible because of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory there, there won’t be a tie vote for Harris to break on the Supreme Court or filibuster issues because Manchin said he will vote against it.

“I’ve laid that fear to rest,” he said.

The Founding Fathers intended there to be a body, the Senate, where the minority can be a check and balance on power and everyone works in a bipartisan way, Manchin said. The filibuster is the check and balance, he said.

Otherwise, the minority would have no input, Manchin said.

“Without it (the filibuster), then you break the Senate,” he said.

The House of Representatives has no filibuster rule, so former congressmen who are elected to the Senate see things from a different perspective, Manchin said. Senators who were governors, for example, like Manchin, see it from a point of view including the minority, he said.

“Their mindset is different from ours,” Manchin said.

Manchin’s stand had little influence on Melody Potter, chairwoman of the West Virginia Republican Party.

“West Virginians can’t trust a word Joe Manchin says these days; his opinions shift with the winds coming off the Potomac swamp,” Potter said. “He voted against Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, voted to impeach President Donald Trump, has voted against COVID relief funding and voted against tax cuts. We look forward to beating him if he runs for re-election.”

Manchin said he voted against Barrett because the Senate has never confirmed a Supreme Court justice for a vacancy that arose after July in an election year.

Divisive issues further split a nation that is already divided, Manchin said.

An issue with a definite impact in Georgia and other states including West Virginia would be healthcare and the Affordable Care Act, Manchin said. Georgia, like West Virginia, has experienced the closure of rural hospitals, he said. Also, funds to states through the act, besides helping people, create jobs, including 16,000 jobs in West Virginia, he said.

In the Georgia races, Democrat Raphael Warnock, who received about 33 percent of the vote, will face Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who received about 26 percent.

In the other race, Republican Sen. David Perdue received 49.7 percent of the vote to Democrat Jon Ossoff’s 48 percent.

Jess Mancini can be reached at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com.


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