". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


‘My Own Little Filibuster’: Manchin Won’t Back Judicial Nominees without Bipartisan Support

March 21, 2024

A veteran Democratic senator is making a final stand for bipartisanship before retiring in January — by refusing to support President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees unless they have Republican support. According to a Politico report, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted against a slew of Biden’s judicial picks this week because they didn’t have Republican support in the Senate. “Just one Republican. That’s all I’m asking for,” Manchin quipped. “Give me something bipartisan. This is my own little filibuster. If they can’t get one Republican, I vote for none. … I said, ‘I’m sick and tired of it, I can’t take it anymore.’”

Manchin noted that several Republicans, such as South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, are willing to vote with Democrats, if only they are asked to. “If they don’t have a Republican, I’m opposing. That’s my way of saying: ‘I’m leaving this place, I’ve tried everything I can. Don’t tell me you can’t get one,’” Manchin said. “If you’ve got a decent person you can at least get one. … But you’ve got to ask them.”

The 76-year-old West Virginia senator has been a staunch advocate of the filibuster, a device many of his Democratic colleagues have discussed dismantling. In 2022, Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema (then a Democrat and since an Independent) were the sole two Democrats voting against their own party’s proposed rule changes to end the filibuster. Back in 2013, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ended the use of the filibuster for judicial nominees, thus Manchin’s reference to his “own little filibuster.”

Traditionally, the filibuster has been viewed as a means of preventing mob rule and maintaining bipartisanship in the Senate, since 60 votes are required to invoke cloture and end a filibuster and the Senate is often closely divided along party lines. Senator Graham explained, “I think having to get 60 votes is a good exercise, and it makes the most extreme ideas hard to pass. That’s a good thing.” Sinema concurred, warning, “When one party need only negotiate with itself, policy will inextricably be pushed from the middle towards the extremes.” Without the legislative filibuster, a simple majority could override the will of the rest of the Senate and enact sweeping legislative changes, such as court-packing.

Manchin noted that, although both he and Sinema are on their way out, he’s still trying to preserve the legislative filibuster from meeting the same fate as its judicial kin. He reported that he’s telling political donors to ask candidates if they “will commit to supporting and keeping the filibuster.” He added, “If they don’t, you ought to think twice about it.”

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.