Presidential Candidates on Judges
America’s mayor Rudy Giuliani has a section on judges in which he references his experience as the third highest ranking official in the Reagan Justice Department and promises that “the kind of judges he …would appoint are strict constructionists like Justices Scalia, Roberts and Alito – principled individuals who can be trusted to respect the Constitution as it is written, rather than attempting to legislate from the bench.”
Though there is nothing on his “Issues Watch” page that directly speaks to judicial nominations, Mitt Romney’s web site references his comments on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s gay marriage decision: "Last year the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court struck a blow against the family …The court forgot that marriage is first and foremost about nurturing and developing children."
Senator John McCain’s web site contains a video of the candidate speaking on the subject of judges. On the video, McCain explains that he “will impose no litmus test on any judge, but it’s very important to appoint justices, such as Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, who strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States.”
Sam Brownback’s “On the Issues” page does not mention judicial nominations specifically. However, the “Religious Liberty” section describes how the ACLU profits financially from using the courts to fight the display of religious symbols.
California Congressman Duncan Hunter has an extensive issues page titled “Core Principles”. Included is a section on “Judicial Appointments” in which he says “it is important that those sitting on the bench understand that they have a responsibility to … not legislate from the bench with their own political or social agenda.”
Though former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s web site does not specifically address the type of judges he would appoint, it gives some indication. For example, Huckabee believes that Roe v. Wade should be overturned and applauds the Supreme Court’s recent partial-birth abortion decision.
Tommy Thompson’s site makes no mention of the kind of judges he would pick. But the former governor of Wisconsin does explain his stance on issues that have been at the core of recent controversial federal courts decisions – such as abortion and Second Amendment rights.
There’s no doubting where Tom Tancredo stands on judges. In his “Judicial Activism” section, Tancredo pulls no punches saying, “With decisions on abortion, gay rights, religion, sexual mores, and illegal immigration, activist judges have ripped democracy from the hands of the people on the issues they most want their voices heard. The intellectual dishonesty of activist judges has brought their profession into disrepute.”
While former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore’s “Issues” page does not describe the type of men and women he would appoint to the bench, it does explain how he has defended Second Amendment rights and fought “for the sanctity of life and the preservation of traditional family values.”
Though it doesn’t speak to judicial nominations, Ron Paul’s “Issues” page contains an entire section on “Property Rights and Eminent Domain” – just in case you didn’t know what this libertarian thinks of the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision.
I also took a look at all of the Democratic candidates’ web sites (even Mike Gravel’s), but couldn’t find anything about who they would appoint to the federal bench. There was plenty of discussion about issues impacted by the judiciary, such as abortion and the Patriot Act, but nothing about judicial nominations – not even bashing President Bush for nominating Justices Roberts and Alito. Given that the judges issue helped Republicans in the 2002 and 2004 elections, perhaps the Democrats are trying to stay away from it.
Note: While the Committee for Justice does not plan to endorse any of the candidates, we will be watching and reporting what they say about the judges issue.