The spectacles we persist in dignifying as presidential “debates” — two-minute regurgitations of rehearsed responses — often subtract from the nation’s understanding. But beginning Wednesday, these less-than-Lincoln-Douglas episodes might be edifying if the candidates could be inveigled into plowing fresh ground.
Concerning the judiciary
Although the average age of the Supreme Court justices (66) is less than that of the Rolling Stones (68), three justices will be in their 80s before the next presidential term ends, so the next president probably can solidify today’s conservative majority or create a liberal majority.
For Mitt Romney: Many conservatives advocate “judicial restraint.” They denounce “judicial activism” and define it as not properly deferring to decisions by government’s majoritarian branches. Other conservatives praise “judicial engagement” and define it as actively defending liberty against overbearing majorities. Do you favor “restraint” or “engagement”? Do you reject the Kelo decision, in which the Supreme Court deferred to governments’ desire to seize private property and give it to wealthier private interests who would pay higher taxes?
For Barack Obama: You deplore the court’s Citizens United decision. What is your constitutional basis for rejecting the decision’s principle that Americans do not forfeit their First Amendment rights when they come together in corporate entities (mostly nonprofit advocacy corporations such as the Sierra Club) to speak collectively? You say you would “seriously consider” amending the First Amendment to empower Congress to regulate political speech. Explain why you would choose to make the Bill of Rights less protective.