CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP/KDKA) — West Virginia's Republican attorney general on Thursday blasted Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin for vowing not to vote on a Supreme Court nominee before Election Day.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey joined a small rally outside the state capitol in support of Amy Coney Barrett for the high court. President Donald Trump nominated Barrett, who received Manchin's vote in 2017 to become a federal appeals judge.
At midday Thursday, about two dozen people rallied in Charleston with Morrisey and state party leaders. They chanted "Fill that seat!" before Morrisey urged them to organize and sign petitions to back Barrett. Morrisey said it was "absurd" for Manchin not to support Barrett now.
Manchin has charged Republicans with hypocrisy for "rushing" to confirm Barrett while in 2016 they did not move former President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the high court eight months before the general election.
"For the sake of the integrity of our courts and legal system, I do not believe the U.S. Senate should vote on a U.S. Supreme Court nominee before the November 3rd election," Manchin, a Democrat, said in a statement last month.
Morrisey pushed back on that. "This is just an excuse by a lot of people on the other side. They don't like that President Trump has reshaped the federal judiciary," he said after the rally. "But elections have consequences."
The rush by Trump to fill the Supreme Court seat is drawing fierce objections from Democrats, the first time in U.S. history a nominee will be voted on so close to a presidential election, with early voting already underway in half the states.
But West Virginia's Republican senator, Shelley Capito, said "there are some marked differences between 2016 and now." She noted Republicans retained control of the Senate in 2018.
She also added she was "very impressed" after a "cordial and warm conversation" with Barrett on Wednesday in Washington. Barrett was on Capitol Hill for a second-day meeting with senators ahead of confirmation hearings.
West Virginia Republican Party Chair Melody Potter said she was "pretty sure" Capito would vote to confirm Barrett.
As for Manchin, she said, "He needs to represent his constituents."
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