Unusually explicit comments this month by Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have resurrected the debate over the propriety of establishing “litmus tests” for potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees.
First Sanders and then Clinton said that if elected president, they would nominate to the high court individuals who are committed to overturning Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent expenditures in election campaigns.
On Face the Nation May 10, Sanders said any of his would-be nominees to the Supreme Court “will say that we are going to overturn this disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United because that decision is undermining American democracy. I do not believe that billionaires should be able to buy politicians.”
Eight days later, Clinton told supporters in Iowa, “I will do everything I can do to appoint Supreme Court justices who will protect the right to vote and not the right of billionaires to buy elections.” Her reference to the right to vote suggests she would look for candidates who would overturn not only Citizens United but also the 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder that found a key section of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.