WASHINGTON ― Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Friday he is alarmed that two Supreme Court justices he supported have helped the court eliminate the constitutional right to abortion.
Manchin voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh the following year. After they joined a ruling dismantling the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, Manchin suggested the justices may have lied during their confirmation hearings.
“I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans,” Manchin said in a statement.
At his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch described Roe as “a precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court” and said “a good judge will consider it as precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other.”
Under questioning from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Gorsuch elaborated on the importance of precedents, saying they ensure the stability of the legal system.
“Once a case is settled, that adds to the determinacy of the law,” Gorsuch said. “What was once a hotly contested issue is no longer a hotly contested issue.”
In Friday’s Supreme Court decision, however, the court said that “far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”
Supermajorities of American voters for decades have said abortion should be legal in all or some circumstances, according to Gallup polling. As a result of the court’s decision, abortion will soon be illegal in as many as 26 states with limited exceptions.
Kavanaugh, for his part, described Roe as “settled law” during his confirmation hearing.
“One of the important things to keep in mind about Roe v. Wade is that it has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years, as you know, and most prominently, most importantly, reaffirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992,” Kavanaugh said. “I understand the importance of the issue. I understand the importance that people attach to the Roe v. Wade decision, to the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision.”
“If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that is really what will happen,” Trump said as a candidate during a presidential debate. “That will happen automatically in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this. It will go back to the states and the states will then make a determination.”
Nevertheless, Manchin said he was “deeply disappointed” in the Roe decision.
”It has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years and was understood to be settled precedent,” Manchin said. “As a Catholic, I was raised pro-life and will always consider myself pro-life. But I have come to accept that my definition of pro-life may not be someone else’s definition of pro-life.”
Manchin added that he would support legislation to codify the right to an abortion that had been protected by Roe, but he doesn’t support the procedural changes that would make such a bill viable in the Senate.
More on the Supreme Court abortion ruling:
- Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, dismantling decades-old precedent
- Roe overturned: The fight begins
- Abortion is now illegal in these states
- Liberal justices dissent with “sorrow” for “millions of American women”
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “We have to fill the streets”
- Clarence Thomas: Cases protecting gay marriage and contraception should be next
- Republicans make it clear they want to ban abortion nationwide
- Donald Trump praises SCOTUS decision
- West Coast states launch a plan to protect out-of-state abortion patients
- Here’s how the world is reacting to the end of Roe