Special Edition: In Final Debate, Candidates Clash Over Supreme Court

636125586760806870-xxx-20161019-aps-usa-091In their third and final debate, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton gave sharply contrasting views on the Supreme Court and on Roe v. Wade. Trump said if he named several new justices, Roe would “automatically” be overturned and the issue returned to the states. Clinton said neither Roe nor marriage rights rulings should be reversed, while she advocated that “we stand up against Citizens United,” the landmark campaign finance decision from 2010.

A National Law Journal article was headlined “Trump Predicts Roe v. Wade Falls ‘Automatically’ If He Makes SCOTUS Picks,” and it is available by Google searching. While Fox debate host Chris Wallace had devoted a segment to the Supreme Court, the article said, “The final presidential debate Wednesday night left unanswered a raft of questions about the future of the U.S. Supreme Court, including the fate of nominee Merrick Garland, and instead focused on the candidates’ well-versed positions on guns and abortion.”

Democrat Clinton said, “I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful, corporations and the wealthy,” according to The Washington Post. She “cast herself as a champion for progressive values, saying she would appoint justices who would defend women’s rights and gay rights and help to overturn the Citizens United ruling that has opened the floodgates to money in politics,” the Post reported.

She said the Senate should “go forward with the process” of confirming President Obama’s appointee to the court, although she did not mention Chief Judge Garland by name.

Trump pledged, “The justices I’m going to appoint will be pro-life, they will have a conservative bent, they will be protecting the Second Amendment.” He added, “They will interpret the Constitution the way the Founders wanted it.”

The Republican said his opponent wants to appoint justices who would severely curb gun rights, and portrayed the Second Amendment as “under absolute siege.” Clinton replied by stating an appreciation for gun-owning traditions, voiced her support for the Second Amendment and said it leaves room for reasonable regulation.

At Forbes, Michael Bobelian filled in some historical background. “Forty-eight years after [Richard] Nixon became the first major party candidate to politicize the Court during a presidential run, candidates now provide detailed explanations of the types of justices they plan to nominate,” he wrote.

CONTROVERSY CONTINUES OVER McCAIN STATEMENT: A statement on Monday by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., about Senate Republicans uniting to block any Supreme Court nomination in a potential Clinton administration (see Gavel Grab for background) continued to draw analysis and commentary, including Lyle Denniston in Constitution Daily, “Constitution Check: Could the Supreme Court handle a long-term vacancy?”; Media Matters, “CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin: McCain Threat Of GOP Senate Opposing All Clinton Supreme Court Nominees Is Unprecedented”; and National Review, “The Case for Shrinking the Supreme Court.”