Opinion

Capito, Manchin roles in court pick important

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register 

WHEELING, W.Va. — No other state has a greater stake than West Virginia in what becomes of the U.S. Supreme Court in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. For that reason, our two U.S. senators, Republican Shelley Capito and Democrat Joe Manchin, should be leaders in the fight against replacing Scalia with a liberal activist justice.

For the good of all Americans, Scalia should be replaced by someone like him. His fidelity was to the Constitution, not to whatever liberal cause happened to be before the high court at any given time.

A Supreme Court ruling just days before Scalia died illustrates what is at stake in naming a new justice. In that case, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and officials from other states had asked the court to order the Environmental Protection Agency to delay enforcement of its new Clean Power Plan.

As Morrisey and other petitioners pointed out, the plan is the subject of lawsuits filed by those who fear it will both devastate the coal industry and drive electricity prices up. But EPA officials had planned to proceed with enforcement while the courts dealt with those suits.

By the time the suits are settled, irreparable damage will have been done, Morrisey and the others emphasized. Utilities will continue shutting down the coal-fired plants that generate reasonably priced power. Even if plaintiffs in suits against the EPA win, those plants are likely to remain closed.

A majority of justices agreed, ordering the EPA to suspend enforcement of Clean Power Plan provisions until the lawsuits are settled.

But that decision was in a 5-4 vote by justices. Scalia voted with the majority.

Among the four justices who wanted to give the EPA a green light were Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor – both Obama nominees.

Clearly, Obama will nominate a new justice who will support the president’s agenda. The Clean Power Plan is at the top of his priority list.

With less than a year left in his tenure, Obama should let his successor nominate a replacement for Scalia.

He will not do that. In order to gain Senate confirmation of his nominee, Obama may be willing to make political deals.

That is why it is critical for Capito and Manchin to lead the fight against confirmation of an Obama justice. Allowing Scalia’s successor to be anything like Kagan and Sotomayor ideologically would be bad for all Americans – but a disaster for West Virginians.

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