T.L. Headley, vice president
United Citizens for Coal

Senator Joe Manchin appears to be trying to drum up support for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Manchin hosted a “town hall” in Charleston this past Thursday in which he called for public input into his decision.  Despite the billing, it appears Manchin was using the forum to push his view that Garland’s nomination deserves to be moved to the Senate for a vote.  Republicans say an appointment that could radically shift the court to the left for generations should wait until the outcome of the November elections and a new president, whoever that may be, takes office.  In essence, the Republicans believe the voters should decide the future of the court with their vote in this year’s general election.

Closer to home, Garland has a clear history of supporting the power grabs of the EPA and our industry, our state and our people simply can’t afford to have someone who would allow the EPA’s war on coal to continue unabated sitting on the court for 10, 20 or even 30 years. Our industry would not survive.

Among other decisions, in 2003, Garland wrote an opinion upholding the federal government’s application of the Endangered Species Act, which opponents challenged on the ground that the act exceeded the bounds of the Commerce Clause. In several other cases, he voted to uphold EPA regulations on emissions.

Senator Manchin surely must know Garland’s record, and that makes his decision to support the Obama nomination impossible to understand.  West Virginia simply can’t afford to indulge in politics as usual and we can’t allow our elected representatives to do so either.

We have 11,000 coal miners unemployed as well as another 50,000 people who held support jobs. We have unemployment topping 11 percent across much of the state. Child poverty is up more than 25 percent in many of those same counties. And the state is likely facing a $500 million budget shortfall when all is said and done. Schools, clinics and other services are closing due to budget shortages.

With this appointment of Garland, Obama shows he intends to appoint a new Supreme Court justice who will tip the balance in favor of his war on coal as well as the rest of his left wing agenda – locking it in place for generations and that is something we simply cannot allow.

If Senator Manchin has chosen, as it appears, to support Obama and his effort to push a Supreme Court appointment through, making permanent damage caused by his war on coal, then it is simply time West Virginia replaces Manchin with someone who will truly work to defend the state’s coal jobs.

We hope we are wrong in believing Manchin has chosen to take Obama’s thirty pieces of silver in return for the sacrifice of our state’s coal miners and their families. We hope Manchin chooses to stand with conservative senators who have indicated they will not support an Obama nominee to the Supreme Court and will instead wait for the results of the November election to decide the future of not only coal but of our country.

We are asking Senator Manchin to put the needs of West Virginia’s coal miners and their families ahead of politics. We are asking him to say no to the Garland nomination and no to ANY Obama nominee to the Supreme Court.  If Manchin chooses to ignore our requests and put his partisan politics ahead of the needs of our people, then we can guarantee that we will remember such a sell-out when he runs for re-election.

We have listened to politicians’ empty promises and worthless words for too long.  Now is the time for Manchin or any other politician to put up or shut up.


Citizens for Coal

Citizens for Coal is a grassroots organization comprised of approximately 10,000 people from all walks of life who share one common belief — that coal mining is a vital part of the economy of the Appalachia region and must be protected from radicals who are trying to destroy the industry, take away the livelihoods of thousands of families and bankrupt entire communities. United Mine Workers of America member and coal miner Roger Horton is the president and founder of Citizens for Coal. The organization is based in Logan, West Virginia and has members from all 50 states.