John McCain and Barack Obama Split on Supreme Court Judges in Forum

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 18, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John McCain and Barack Obama Split on Supreme Court Judges in Forum

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 18
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — While the contrast between John McCain and Barack Obama on abortion received much of the public’s and media attention after the evangelical forum on Saturday, another divide also emerged. McCain an Obama couldn’t have been further apart on the issue of judicial appointments.

Obama and McCain have been divided on Supreme Court judges throughout the campaign.

Obama has promised to only appoint judges who take a strong pro-abortion view while McCain has promised judges who would not make up the law from the bench but would strictly interpret the Constitution.

Putting that division on display Saturday night, the two presidential candidates responded to a question from Pastor Rick Warren: "Which existing Supreme Court justice would you not have nominated?"

Obama quickly slammed the only African-American on the Supreme Court by naming pro-life stalwart Clarence Thomas.

"I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas," he said. "I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation, setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of a lot of the Constitution."

The pro-abortion candidate also named the other Supreme Court justice who has made it clear he thinks Roe v. Wade — and its favoring unlimited abortions — should be reversed.

"I would not nominate Justice [Antonin] Scalia, although I don’t think there’s any doubt about his intellectual brilliance, because he and I just disagree," he said.

McCain responded to the same question and rattled off a list of four of the members of the nation’s high court who have voted to keep abortions legal throughout pregnancy with virtually no limits.

“With all due respect, Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, Justice Souter and Justice Stephens," he said.

"This nomination should be based on the criteria of proven record, of strictly adhering to the Constitution of the United States of America and not legislating from the bench," he added.

Jay Sekulow, a pro-life attorney affiliated with the ACLJ, recognized the key differences between the candidates.

"I liked the question, but Senator Obama’s response concerns me," he said.

"Nothing surprising at his response if it was based on judicial philosophy," Sekulow explained. "However, Sen. Obama in essence said that Clarence Thomas was not intellectually ready for the position. I thought that was a cheap shot."

Sekulow also said Obama’s voting record on justices doesn’t match his rhetoric.

"Sen. Obama also said that he would not have nominated Justice Scalia, even though he is smart enough (contrasting that with Clarence Thomas)," he said. "John Roberts was clearly smart enough, although he voted against him."


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