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The Debates

 

There we three times in the three debates that are of primary concern to gun owners. In the second debate, there was a question about appointing Supreme Court Justices. That interaction was as follows:

 

MICHAELSON: Mr. President, if there were a vacancy in the Supreme Court and you had the opportunity to fill that position today, who would you choose and why?

BUSH: I'm not telling.

(LAUGHTER)

I really don't have -- haven't picked anybody yet. Plus, I want them all voting for me.

(LAUGHTER)

I would pick somebody who would not allow their personal opinion to get in the way of the law. I would pick somebody who would strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States.

Let me give you a couple of examples, I guess, of the kind of person I wouldn't pick.

I wouldn't pick a judge who said that the Pledge of Allegiance couldn't be said in a school because it had the words "under God" in it. I think that's an example of a judge allowing personal opinion to enter into the decision-making process as opposed to a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

Another example would be the Dred Scott case, which is where judges, years ago, said that the Constitution allowed slavery because of personal property rights.

That's a personal opinion. That's not what the Constitution says. The Constitution of the United States says we're all -- you know, it doesn't say that. It doesn't speak to the equality of America.

And so, I would pick people that would be strict constructionists. We've got plenty of lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Legislators make law; judges interpret the Constitution.

And I suspect one of us will have a pick at the end of next year -- the next four years. And that's the kind of judge I'm going to put on there. No litmus test except for how they interpret the Constitution.

Thank you.

GIBSON: Senator Kerry, a minute and a half.

KERRY: Thank you, Charlie.

A few years ago when he came to office, the president said -- these are his words -- "What we need are some good conservative judges on the courts."

And he said also that his two favorite justices are Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas.

So you get a pretty good sense of where he's heading if he were to appoint somebody.

Now, here's what I believe. I don't believe we need a good conservative judge, and I don't believe we need a good liberal judge. I don't believe we need a good judge of that kind of definition on either side.

I subscribe to the Justice Potter Stewart standard. He was a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. And he said the mark of a good judge, good justice, is that when you're reading their decision, their opinion, you can't tell if it's written by a man or woman, a liberal or a conservative, a Muslim, a Jew or a Christian. You just know you're reading a good judicial decision.

What I want to find, if I am privileged to have the opportunity to do it -- and the Supreme Court of the United States is at stake in this race, ladies and gentlemen.

The future of things that matter to you -- in terms of civil rights, what kind of Justice Department you'll have, whether we'll enforce the law.  Will we have equal opportunity?  Will women's rights be protected?  Will we have equal pay for women, which is going backwards?  Will a woman's right to choose be protected? 

These are constitutional rights, and I want to make sure we have judges who interpret the Constitution of the United States according to the law.

 

Kerry says that 'we have judges who interpret the Constitution of the United States according to the law'. The problem is that the Constitution IS the law. Laws written are interpreted and validated within the context of the Constitution, not the other way around.

 

 

The final debate addressed the gun control question head on:

 

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, new question, two minutes.

You said that if Congress would vote to extend the ban on assault weapons, that you'd sign the legislation, but you did nothing to encourage the Congress to extend it. Why not?

BUSH: Actually, I made my intentions -- made my views clear. I did think we ought to extend the assault weapons ban, and was told the fact that the bill was never going to move, because Republicans and Democrats were against the assault weapon ban, people of both parties.

I believe law-abiding citizens ought to be able to own a gun. I believe in background checks at gun shows or anywhere to make sure that guns don't get in the hands of people that shouldn't have them.

But the best way to protect our citizens from guns is to prosecute those who commit crimes with guns. And that's why early in my administration I called the attorney general and the U.S. attorneys and said: Put together a task force all around the country to prosecute those who commit crimes with guns. And the prosecutions are up by about 68 percent -- I believe -- is the number.

Neighborhoods are safer when we crack down on people who commit crimes with guns.

To me, that's the best way to secure America.

SCHIEFFER: Senator?

KERRY: I believe it was a failure of presidential leadership not to reauthorize the assault weapons ban.

I am a hunter. I'm a gun owner. I've been a hunter since I was a kid, 12, 13 years old. And I respect the Second Amendment and I will not tamper with the Second Amendment.

But I'll tell you this. I'm also a former law enforcement officer. I ran one of the largest district attorney's offices in America, one of the ten largest. I put people behind bars for the rest of their life. I've broken up organized crime. I know something about prosecuting.

And most of the law enforcement agencies in America wanted that assault weapons ban. They don't want to go into a drug bust and be facing an AK-47.

I was hunting in Iowa last year with a sheriff from one of the counties there, and he pointed to a house in back of us, and said, "See the house over? We just did a drug bust a week earlier, and the guy we arrested had an AK-47 lying on the bed right beside him."

Because of the president's decision today, law enforcement officers will walk into a place that will be more dangerous. Terrorists can now come into America and go to a gun show and, without even a background check, buy an assault weapon today.

And that's what Osama bin Laden's handbook said, because we captured it in Afghanistan. It encouraged them to do it.

So I believe America's less safe.

If Tom DeLay or someone in the House said to me, "Sorry, we don't have the votes," I'd have said, "Then we're going to have a fight."

And I'd have taken it out to the country and I'd have had every law enforcement officer in the country visit those congressmen. We'd have won what Bill Clinton won.

 

First, if the Assault Weapon Ban was so popular, why did the Fraternal Order of Police endorse George Bush and why did the Violence Policy Center admit that it was ineffective legislation?

 

Second, Kerry's voting record shows him not to support the Second Amendment.

 

And finally, to a question about abortion, Kerry said:

 
I'm not going to appoint a judge to the Court who's going to undo a constitutional right, whether it's the First Amendment, or the Fifth Amendment, or some other right that's given under our courts today under the Constitution.

 

That sounds all well and good except rights are not granted by or under any court or even the Constitution. Rights are inalienable and are delineated by the Constitution, not defined by it. The power flows from the people to the government, not vise versa. Perhaps Kerry thinks the people gets their rights from the government.

 

 
   

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