When voters head to the polls on November 8, they will elect much more than the next president. While it is not in printed ink, there is another position on the ballot. Apart from Commander-in-Chief, voters will have the opportunity to alter the Supreme Court of the United States for what could be a quarter century.
In the third and final presidential debate, moderator Chris Wallace opened the evening by addressing the issue of the court. In a question directed to both Clinton and Trump, Wallace asked, “where do you want to see the court taking the country?” and “what’s your view on how the constitution should be interpreted…?” Unsurprisingly, the two candidates had staunchly different views on what direction the court should go moving forward.
Hillary Clinton responded by emphasizing the court’s role in standing up for individual rights. She stated 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.” Clinton specifically mentioned Roe v. Wade and marriage equality as two decisions that she would make sure did not get reversed, and pointed to Citizens United as a verdict that must be struck down. In his answer, Donald Trump stated that the justices he would appoint “will interpret the constitution the way the founders wanted it interpreted.” He also noted that the justices he will appoint would have a “conservative ben[d]” and “will be pro-life.”
If this election cycle has shown us anything, it is that our country is extremely divided. Donald Trump has run a campaign centered around fear mongering and the portrayal of a country in despair. He has indulged in rhetoric aimed to tear at the seams of our national unity, attacking minority groups at seemingly every turn. What is perhaps even more horrific is that he has garnered a strong base of supporters while spewing such unprecedented and appalling rhetoric. Hillary Clinton is right when she says that the Supreme Court will decide “what kind of country [we] are going to be” and “what kinds of rights” Americans will have. Now, more than ever, we need a court that is on the side of the American people and willing to fight for minority rights.
In the 21st century, we can no longer look to the exact words that the framers wrote in 1787 to dictate our laws; late conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia’s approach of “originalism” can no longer be tolerated. Rather, we need a court that will take a prudent approach to applying the values and ideas of the framers to our modern society. To focus solely on the original text is to be obstinate and naïve of the drastic changes that have occurred in our nation over the course of the past two centuries. Given the vague nature of many pieces of the constitution, was it not the framers intent to allow for active interpretation?
The United States Supreme Court must be an active advocate for gun control, abortion and marriage equality. The latter two issues have already been decided, so it is imperative that they are upheld. Now, the court must send a strong message on guns in America. At the time the second amendment was written, we were a country that was accustomed to militias and muskets, not semi-automatic assault weapons. Today, upwards of 90 percent of Americans support increased background checks. Donald Trump is dead wrong when he says that the second amendment is “under siege.” Americans are responding to our ever-changing society, which clearly demands certain restrictions in order to save innocent lives. The court must respond as well.
At a time when Donald Trump is threatening to ban Muslims from entering our country, deport millions of hard-working immigrants and take away a woman’s right to declare her own reproductive future, Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court will be a champion for the American people. Since the middle of the 20th century and the Civil Rights Movement, the Supreme Court has consistently stood up to injustice and protected the liberties of all Americans. Hillary Clinton will ensure that the court continues to move in that direction, ensuring that the constitution is on the side of all – not just the majority. It is about time the Supreme Court takes an active hand in representing the ever-changing, modernizing and diversified American population. The “Clinton Court” will do just that.