The death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sent Democrats and Republicans scrambling to fill the void and pull the court to either side.
With an aging bench, the next president could be able to appoint three justices, tipping the scales away from the current 4-4 court and potentially deciding some of the most important questions of our time — whether abortion is about the right to life or a woman’s right to choose, if private and unaccounted for political expenditure equals free speech and how the Second Amendment should be applied to U.S. citizens.
Opening the third presidential debate Wednesday night, moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace brought up the Constitution and asked the presidential candidates where the Supreme Court should take it.
“We need a supreme court that, in my opinion, is going to uphold the Second Amendment and all amendments, but the Second Amendment, which is under absolute siege,” GOP candidate Donald Trump said. “I believe if my opponent should win this race, which I truly don’t think will happen, we will have a second amendment which will be a very, very small replica of what it is right now.”
Trump has accused his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, of seeking to abolish the Second Amendment, charges she has denied and rebuffed during the debate.
Wallace revisited remarks Clinton made about the 2008 D.C. v. Heller case, about which she said the Supreme Court was wrong on the Second Amendment.
“Well, first of all, I support the second amendment,” Clinton said. “We have 33,000 people a year who die from guns. I think we need comprehensive background checks. We need to close the online loophole, close the gun show loophole. There are other matters that I think are sensible that are the kind of reforms that would make a difference that are not in any way conflicting with the second amendment.”
Clinton said she disagreed with the Heller decision because the District of Columbia was trying to protect toddlers from guns. It was about safe storage “and the court didn’t accept that reasonable regulation, but they’ve accepted many others.”
“I see no conflict between saving people’s lives and defending the second amendment,” Clinton said.
Wallace then asked Trump why he takes such a pro-gun stance, including opposition to any limits on assault weapons, magazine capacity and support of a national right to carry law.
“In Chicago, which has the toughest gun laws in the United States, probably you could say by far they have more gun violence than any other city,” Trump said. “So we have the toughest laws and you have tremendous gun violence. I am a very strong supporter of the Second Amendment.”
Trump was endorsed by the National Rifle Association at its convention earlier this year. Clinton during an earlier primary debate said she was most proud of making an enemy of the gun lobby group.