Over the next week we will be “treated” to presidential debates from both political parties. After the recent MSNBC event I’m hoping (not very optimistically) that future debate questions will go beyond the candidate’s opinions of each other or their feelings about their fantasy football team. The electorate deserves a more substantive discussion.
Here’s two questions I’d like to hear answered by every candidate from both parties:
1. What criteria will guide your selection of a Supreme Court nominee? What judicial philosophy will you look for in your choice?
Recent events have demonstrated the increasingly formative role the Court is playing in our nation’s governance. With four current justices over the age of 75, the next president could potentially shape the Supreme Court for the next 25-35 years. Justices often shift (generally to the left) once on the bench making it impossible to predict, but the now closely-divided court could likely become weighted toward one side or the other in the next term(s).
Always an important question, the judicial philosophy the nominee holds as well as the manner in which a president chooses a nominee is particularly important for the candidates in this next election.
2. If Congress obstructs your agenda as president, to what extent will you use your authority as president and Executive Orders to unilaterally accomplish your goals?
This has been the favored means of Presidents of both parties to circumvent opposition of Congress. While it must surely be frustrating to be held back by the gridlock in Congress while feeling pressure from the public to “get the job done,” the Founders established the Separation of Powers for a reason. Regardless their platform, I want to know their view on Constitutional self-limitation.
These are two of the issues about which voters should inform themselves. As with any question posed, there is no guarantee the candidates would be completely honest. However, their response to these questions would be helpful in determining the their overall philosophy of government.
If the mic was yours, what question would you ask the candidates?