Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said Friday that he intends to vote for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, all but ensuring her confirmation to the Supreme Court.
“After meeting with her, considering her record, and closely monitoring her testimony and questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, I have determined that I intend to vote for her nomination to serve on the Supreme Court,” he said in a statement.
Some on the right had tried to sway Manchin, and fellow party-bucker Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), with a debunked-line of attack about her leniency on possessors of child pornography.
“Can Joe Manchin explain to West Virginians why he’s supporting this pedophile apologist?” Donald Trump Jr. asked on Twitter.
Manchin was dismissive of the claims earlier in the week, raising his eyebrows at the source, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). But after days of Hawley, along with Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) banging the drum on the accusations, and getting rewarded with airtime on Fox News to amplify the attacks, Hawley’s initial tweets had turned into a full-fledged disinformation campaign.
Still, the Republicans’ bombastic hearing performances may have had the opposite effect on Manchin than they intended. In his statement, he specifically compliments Jackson’s “temperament” as a factor that makes her an “exceptional jurist.” Jackson withstood the Republicans’ attacks calmly, even when they interrupted her repeatedly as she tried to explain the complexities of criminal sentencing.
Manchin also pointed out that Jackson and her family “spend a great deal of time in West Virginia” and that she has a “deep love of our state.”
Manchin and Sinema have torpedoed Democrats’ legislative agenda for the past year, killing the Build Back Better reconciliation package after months of protracted negotiations, and upholding the filibuster, which ended all hope of passing voting rights legislation. But they have routinely and dependably voted for President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees, their support critical in the evenly-split Senate, helping him fill out the federal judiciary at a record pace.
Sinema has not yet spoken publicly about her support for Jackson, but her opposition would be a surprise.
With all 50 Democrats on board, Jackson would be on a glide path to confirmation. Senate Judiciary Republicans have already dropped the idea of boycotting her confirmation hearing, meaning that, barring an illness or accident incapacitating a Democratic senator, Jackson is poised to be confirmed in the next month.