US Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s death has left an opening on the Supreme Court. Should President Obama’s nominee get a Senate hearing, or do you favor leaving that selection to the next President? Explain your position.
The United State Senate should hold confirmation hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. However, partisan politics have obscured good policy. According to Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the President “shall nominate… judges of the Supreme Court.” There is no language to suggest that there is or should be an exception in an election year nor would one make sense. Unfortunately, the Constitution is not clear on the Senate’s obligation to provide “advice and consent” relative to confirmation. Correspondingly, Article I, Section 5, states that “Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings,” and it is that provision that is being used to hold the nomination hostage. The question becomes: “What useful purpose of the People is served by delaying confirmation hearings?” The answer is: “None.” Therefore, the nominee should be given the courtesy of a hearing and an up or down vote.
An estimated 300,000 people died from gun violence between 2004 and 2014. On June 12 another 49 people died in a mass shooting in Orlando. Dozens more were wounded. Do you support or oppose a federal ban on assault weapons, and do you support or oppose limits on firearms purchases by someone who is or has been under suspicion of terrorist activities?
I support the Second Amendment. However, just as there are reasonable restrictions imposed upon our First Amendment freedoms when related actions intrude upon the rights of others and represent an unconscionable trespass upon society, I think we need to have an open dialogue about establishing reasonable restrictions upon the type of weapons the Second Amendment anticipates and protects. There are weapons that serve little to no positive social purpose and true assault weapons fall into that category (not cosmetically-based criteria). Therefore, I would support a federal ban. Theoretically, I would support “limits on firearm purchases by someone who is or has been under suspicion of terrorist activities.” However, my support would be contingent upon sufficient due process requirements being in place to assure that probable cause has been established. It would also be contingent upon the nature of the limitations imposed on those who are no longer under suspicion.
Some 30 million Americans remain without health insurance. Would you support or oppose the Affordable Healthcare Act as currently written? Explain why you would support its continuation or what kind of plan, if any, should replace it.
I support the concept of the Affordable Care Act. However, we need to revisit its original intent and modify it as necessary to achieve those objectives. The ACA was supposed to address three critical elements of healthcare: accessibility, cost and quality. Unfortunately, it ultimately focused almost exclusively on accessibility. As a result, it has experienced challenges in the other two areas and fallen short of its promise. I believe healthcare should be considered to be a right within the context of the “general Welfare” provision of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. Our Nation should be smart enough to identify, and strong enough to fund a system that helps those who cannot help themselves. No one should have to decide between having the medical care they need and the other essentials of life (i.e., food, clothing and shelter). To accomplish that, the ACA will have to be amended.
Some presidential candidates have said they would favor getting rid of the U.S. Department of Education. Explain what kind of role you believe the federal government should play in education and what federal education policies you would support or oppose.
A well-educated society inures to the “general Welfare of the United States.” Therefore, I believe that elements of education fall within federal interests under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. At the federal level, I believe that access, quality and cost are the key components. Every American should have access to the same quality of education in grade K-12 regardless of zip code as well as the opportunity to pursue higher education based on merit rather than socioeconomic status. State and local governments can more effectively address content, but the federal government should assure that every child has access to a quality education without cost ever becoming a barrier. Our children represent the future of our country. We must provide them with the educational tools they need to compete in a global economy and to keep our Nation strong.
Florida has witnessed some massive fish kills in recent years because of nutrient pollution. What role does the federal government have in protecting the environment, and would you favor or oppose eliminating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency?
Again, the environment inures to the “general Welfare of the United States” (Art. I, Sec. 8) and therefore is an appropriate subject for federal regulation. As such, I would oppose eliminating the EPA, but I do favor refocusing it on its core mission. In recent years, the agency has been used to address issues that could not be resolved legislatively, and that can lead to an abuse of power. Our federal and state governments must work together to address the recent rash of nutrient pollution from which many of our rivers, streams and lakes suffer. Fertilizers, storm water runoff and wastewater effluent contribute significantly to the nutrient loading and algae blooms that have caused the fish kills. EPA and other state regulations and conforming infrastructure projects (i.e., storm sewers, wastewater treatment centers, etc.) serve an essential role in helping us preserve and protect our fragile ecosystem.
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