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The most interesting thing in last week’s GOP debate was not Trump. Did you catch that the candidates actually talked about the federal court system? O sing for joy! It rarely happens! Recent election themes have centralized around only two branches of the federal government: legislative and executive. E.g: “I’ll fix what the President gets away with!” and “I’m here to rein in Congress!”

Yet last week’s debate featured oh-so-engaging questioning about the judicial branch. This is convenient timing, considering 2015-16’s TP resolution. The judicial branch has been primarily neglected in the national spotlight for quite some time, but with history-making decisions this year, the GOP is stressed out about all three governmental branches once again. Ahh, love is in the air.

Since politics care about the court system once again, I’m going to brief you on their intricate relationship: starting with a bullet-point list of 2016 GOP frontrunners, and their stance on the power of the judicial branch.

GOP Frontrunners’ Views on the Federal Court System


  • Race to equality: Sees using court system to quell racially motivated law-enforcement to be a problem we can’t really fix.
  • Agree to disagree: “Strongly disagreed” with Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage, but acknowledged it is “now the law of the land.”
  • SCOTUS to protect religious freedom, or specifically Christianity? I call on Congress to make sure deeply held religious views are respected and protected. The government must never force Christians to violate their religious beliefs.”


  • It is how it is: Said can see both sides of Kim Davis case, but believes that SCOTUS rulings are law of land.
  • Interesting factoid: Has grand reform plan to kick children of illegal immigrants out of United States, violating 14th Amendment. Thinks that will hold up in court, although there is precedent showing it wouldn’t.


  • “Pick on someone your own size!”: “Judicial supremacy is not constitutional. We need a Congress and a President that will stand up to the Court when it exceeds its constitutional authority.”
  • States rights: Believes state legislatures should decide stuff. Not everything; some federal decisions are good (stated in the fine print, since he’s, you know, running for a federal position).
  • Last word: Presses that the Supreme Court doesn’t have the final word. It has validity, but it’s important for Congress and the President to push back when the Supreme Court has a bad day.


  • “Court is at stake” confirmed? “Please understand, we have to win this election. The court’s at stake. It is the most important reason for us to turn out, to make sure we don’t lose the judiciary for decades to come.”
  • States rights: Again, proud supporter.
  • Reasonable: He doesn’t always support the Court, but respects its role when it declares states’ actions unconstitutional. Instead, he’s decided to focus his attention on areas he can ostensibly impact.


  • Hey, a man’s history matters: “The simple fact is, that going forward, what we need to do is to have someone that has a long standing set of rulings that consistently makes it clear that he is focused exclusively on upholding the Constitution of the United States.”
  • States rights. “The Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make [the] decision [about gay marriage].” Although, Obergefell v. Hodges was actually deciding whether the states themselves had acted constitutionally. So that probably wouldn’t have worked.
  • “Take On Me”?: Being attacked by fellow conservatives for pushing Justice Roberts’ nomination. Defending himself against it all.


  • Litmus test: “You’re darn right I’d have a litmus test for Supreme Court justices.” It appers that test is tied solely to their definition of a human life.
  • Trivia fun fact: Has used law pretty strictly before. Authorized 16 executions while governor of Arkansas (more than any governor in Arkansas history). 
  • Strong words: Called Obergefell v. Hodges “irrational” and “unconstitutional.”
  • Unconstitutionality: Infuriated that “the court decided to redefine marriage out of thin air”.


  • Law of the land is final: “I think the Supreme Court ruling will become the law of the land, and however much I may agree or disagree with it, I wouldn’t support an amendment to reverse it.”
  • Social issues: has typically only gotten involved with the federal courts when social issues like abortion, women’s rights, or gay marriage are involved.

Rand Paul:

  • Courts and crime: Has talked extensively about reforming how courts deal with crime. Frustrated that prisons are clogged with a majority of nonviolent offenders.
  • Birthright citizenship: Argues that SCOTUS has never directly addressed birthright citizenship, and debates its constitutionality. Probably something he’d consider addressing as President.


  • I’m gonna rein in them youngins’: Plans to rein in the federal courts, oust Justice Roberts, and make sure any newly appointed Justices have a long history upholding the law.
  • Experience: Was actually a Supreme Court clerk for two years (‘95 and ‘96).
  • States rights: The tenth amendment leaves anything not specifically enumerated in the Constitution to the states. He presses this often.

And that concludes Part One of your briefing on elections and the Supreme Court. Part Two, coming later this week, will go into some deeper analysis. That includes (SPOILER ALERTS) thoughts on judicial tyranny, the Supreme Court’s purpose and power, how our federal court system is different from our criminal justice system, and history’s record of how elections relate to the court system. Stay tuned, and get excited for some facts on America’s judiciary.

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