Now that we know the Democratic presidential candidates seeking the party’s nomination, it’s essential that we focus on one of the most critical issues the next occupant of the White House will face: the need to confirm fair-minded judges to our federal courts.
Candidates looking for progressive support—when speaking about their plans for the economy, health care, education and the environment—need to take the opportunity to lay out a compelling vision for something enormous that affects all of those issues: putting fair-minded constitutionalists on the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court.
PFAW is tracking when Democratic presidential candidates emphasize their vision for the courts on their websites, on social media, and in their speeches. Want to help us out? Tweet us using the hashtag #VoteTheCourts2020.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
“I want judges and justices first of all who understand…the way that American life interacts with these constitutional texts… the other thing we really need is judges who think for themselves. The right to choose exists because of a Republican-appointed judge who thought for himself. The right to marry exists because of a Republican-appointed judge who thought for himself.”
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro
“Judges that want to be appointed need to understand the Constitution as it relates to today, not only some sense of what it meant 200 years ago and what society was like, but for today’s challenges.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
“Smart. Honest. Fair. Qualified. Basics, right? We don’t really have that with President Trump. It’s a challenge … I voted against more judicial nominees and cabinet nominees than any other Democrat in the U.S. Senate, because most of his nominees are either unqualified or corrupt.”
Sen. Kamala Harris
“The most important … reason for people to care about the outcome of the election is the United States Supreme Court … there will be consequences for who will be president and what kind of court they will shape.”
Gov. Jay Inslee
“We need judges who are going to be good judges, and they need to support the constitutional rights of everyone, including the women of the United States, who have a clear, unambiguous constitutional right for freedom of their own personal destiny. I would appoint judges that would fulfill that mandate so that our courts look like America … We need to be more aggressive on behalf of the Constitution and our individual liberties.”
“The first thing that I would look for is a sharp practitioner of law, who understands law. They have to understand the historical place of the judicial system in American democracy … I will look for people that will understand that critical nature that you have to stand up for our civil liberties, against sometimes the majority. I would look for diversity because we want more diversity throughout our democracy.”
Rep. Beto O’Rourke
“Some basic level of competency should be the first one … I want to make sure we have qualified, principled people who believe in people, in human beings over corporations, in human beings over special interests, [who] trust women to make their own decisions about their own bodies and reflect the diversity of this country.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders
“My pledge to you … is that as president of the United States, I will appoint Supreme Court justices and nominate [judges] all across the board who will represent the needs of people of color, of working people, and who are prepared to believe and fight for justice – not just the people on top.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell
“I would say I would nominate judges who are experienced, qualified, but also who would uphold the precedent of prior case law, but also understand the evolving times that we live in, and the ‘well-regulated’ part of a militia in the 2nd Amendment is an important interpretation of that Amendment, and protecting all of us.”
“I would use every possible opportunity and every possible appointment…to bring back the people whose consciousness is in alignment with the idea that ‘all men are created equal’ and believe that this is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”