On October 19, 2016, Fox News held the final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The debate signified the ideological clashing of the political right and the political left in our country. The two candidates debated a variety of issues that would serve to represent the fundamental differences between both sides of the political spectrum.
One issue that both candidates discussed was the Supreme Court. The candidates were asked what they believe the Constitution dictates as the proper functionality of the Supreme Court and what type of candidates they would nominate to fill the vacant justice seat if they were elected president. In response to these questions, Hillary Clinton answered by stating:
“You know, I think when we talk about the Supreme Court, it really raises the central issue in this election. Namely, what kind of country are we going to be? What kind of opportunities will we provide for our citizens? What kind of rights will Americans have? And 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. For me, that means that we need a Supreme Court that will stand up and say no to Citizens United, a decision that has undermined the election system in our country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system. I have major disagreements with my opponent about these issues and others that will be before the Supreme Court. But I feel that at this point in our country’s history, it is important that we not reverse marriage equality, that we not reverse Roe v. Wade, that we stand up against Citizens United, we stand up for the rights of the people in the workplace, that we stand up and basically say, the Supreme Court should represent all of us. That’s how I see the court. And the kind of people that I would be looking to nominate to the court would be in the great tradition of standing up to the powerful, standing up on behalf of our rights as Americans.”
This answer was seemingly glossed over by the media and a majority of the country. On the surface, her statement seemed to be a typical representation of what a Democrat wants out of the Supreme Court and its justices: a focus on increasing governmental involvement and scrutiny when it comes to social issues. However, Hillary’s statement on the Supreme Court displays a much larger issue in our country, one that is intertwined with the fundamental core of the political left. This issue is the political left’s conceptual view of law itself.
Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution establishes the judicial branch for our nation and thus gives existence to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is explicitly given the power of both appellate and original jurisdiction. The Supreme court also decides which cases it wants to hear depending on the nature of each case. This allows the court to review and rule over the appealed decisions of the lower courts amongst the states. The court is also able to give an original ruling decision over other cases that do not derive from an appeal.
When the Supreme Court makes a ruling decision about a particular court case, its justices derive their decision as well as the decision’s ideological reasoning from the Constitution itself. The Constitution embodies the founding fathers’ original intent. The Constitution establishes the law of the land, and that law serves as an extension of the founders’ original intent. The Supreme Court then rules in accordance with the Constitution and the law of the land.
This truth is self-evident within the text of the Constitution. It is also evident through the oath that Supreme Court Justices have to make before they are able to execute their duties. All justices must adhere to the founding document and the laws that are derived from it. All justices must also make decisions based solely on the Constitution and law itself. It cannot provide privileges to any individual no matter their income, gender, age, or race.
“I,______, do solemnly swear or affirm that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as ______, according to the best of my abilities and understanding, agreeable to the constitution and the laws of the United States. So help me God.”
Hillary Clinton’s statement did not reflect any of the proper components of the Supreme Court. To Hillary Clinton, and the whole political left, the justices of the Supreme Court should not formulate their decisions on the basis of the Constitution or law but instead on their own subjective opinions about how they think they can instill progress within our society. To them, this means that the court can interpret the Constitution and law anyway they see fit, for in doing so they are capable of enacting social justice. Thus, the political left does not see the Supreme Court as an institution that should be purely impartial to justice, but instead they see it as an institution that should purposefully be partial so that equality and fairness can be assured.
This is a dangerous view of the Supreme Court. The justices that make up the court do not have the moral authority to be partisan in their decisions, nor do they have the ability to transform the Constitution and the nation’s laws in order to instill their subjective views of what social justice should be. The alteration of the country’s founding document must come from the amendment process and not from the hands of the Supreme Court. The inclusion of social justice or social progress must come from legislation at the consent of the people. Restructuring the purpose of the Supreme Court into one that only exists to enact social change will only result in the depletion of the nation’s prosperous system of law.