Joe Manchin 'Trusted' Kavanaugh, Gorsuch to Leave Roe v. Wade Alone

Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said he was "alarmed" by the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade—contending that he had "trusted" conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to uphold the precedent.

Manchin voted with Republicans to confirm Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, who were nominated by former President Donald Trump. At the time of their confirmation hearing, both conservative justices asserted that they viewed the nearly five-decade-old Roe ruling, which established women's right to abortion, as "precedent" to inform future decisions of the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, they ruled with the 6-to-3 majority to overturn the landmark 1973 decision in an opinion handed down on Friday.

"I am deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. It has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years and was understood to be settled precedent. 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 response to the top court's decision, in a Friday statement.

Senator Joe Manchin
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he was "alarmed" by the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday. Above, Manchin is seen ahead of the Senate luncheons in the U.S. Capitol on June 22 in Washington, D.C. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The West Virginia Democrat went on to say that he was hopeful Democrats and Republicans "will come together to put forward a piece of legislation" that would "codify" Roe v. Wade. With an evenly split Senate, any such legislation appears highly unlikely to succeed in the near term.

At the time of his confirmation hearing in 2017, Gorsuch said: "I would tell you that Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed. A good judge will consider it as precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other."

Kavanaugh in 2018 made similar remarks in his confirmation hearing.

"It is settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court, entitled the respect under principles of stare decisis," he said. "The Supreme Court has recognized the right to abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade case. It has reaffirmed it many times."

Manchin was one of three Democrats who voted with Republicans to confirm Gorsuch to the bench. The West Virginia Democrat was the only member of his party to vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

President Joe Biden reacted to the Friday ruling, saying it marked a "sad day for the court and the country." The president warned that "the health and life of women in this nation is now at risk."

In early May, Politico obtained a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court justices that was later confirmed by the court to be authentic. That leak showed a majority of justices were poised to strike down Roe v. Wade after hearing arguments on a Mississippi law that was a direct challenge to the landmark abortion rights case.

The decision overturns the 1973 ruling on Roe, which protected women who seek an abortion "without undue restrictive interference from the government," guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment. Planned Parenthood v. Casey from 1992, which mostly protected those same rights, is also repealed under the new ruling.

"We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," Alito wrote in the leaked draft opinion. "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives."