Realigning the Courts with the Constitution

As president, I will appoint judges who believe in the rule of law, judges who will apply the law as written, and follow the Constitution above all. I will nominate judges who will look to the text, original understanding, history, and structure of the Constitution for answers — not to their own views about public policy, to the popular opinion of the moment, or to what might win favor on liberal newspaper editorial pages. They will defer to the elected branches on issues where the Constitution is silent. But when laws conflict with the Constitution, they will not hesitate to strike them down.

I believe the federal courts are at a crossroads. The next president will help to determine whether we move further away from constitutional government, or correct course. We cannot afford to elect a president who will pack the courts with ‘politicians in robes’ who subvert the law to advance their own political agendas. We need a president who will nominate individuals with a record of respecting the difference between judges and legislators — which is exactly what I pledge to do.

I have a proven record of appointing conservatives to the Florida judiciary as governor, and my administration devoted substantial time to vetting nominees. We sought judges who had shown humility, courage, an appreciation of the duties of a judge, a respect for the will of the people, and devotion to full application of the law without equivocation. My two appointments to the Florida Supreme Court, Raoul Cantero and Kenneth Bell, have earned reputations as its most consistent conservatives. Additionally, two of the appellate judges I named as governor, Charles Canady and Ricky Polston, are now serving with distinction on the Florida Supreme Court.

I will approach nominations to the federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court with the same rigor and care. My strategy is to assemble the broadest possible pool of candidates who meet the core qualifications, scour their records and vet their references. Only those people with a history of respecting both the limits of government power and the will of the people will stay on the list. The final criterion will be to identify those most willing to stand up for the law, even when it runs contrary to their own ideology.

If our court system continues in the wrong direction, we face a troubling future. Our strong tradition of religious liberty, which is already under assault, could erode precipitously. The right to bear arms could be read out of our Constitution. Judicial fiat could end school-choice programs that have given hope to children across our country. The states could be reduced to mere administrative sub-units of the federal government. Liberal dogma could block reasonable protections for unborn children, even when most people agree on them.

So, this is my promise: I will fight for the confirmation of my judicial nominees. They will all have a long, clear conservative record. Opposition from Senate Democrats is all but guaranteed. I am eager to fight for good judges, to make the case in the court of public opinion, and I am confident that those of us who believe in judicial fidelity to the Constitution will win the battle.

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