Marco Rubio on Appointing Supreme Court Justices

October 14th, 2015

In remarks in Derry, New Hampshire, Senator Marco Rubio offered these remarks on what he would look for in a Supreme Court Justice, as well as Circuit Judges:

My criteria for appointing Justices, not just Supreme Court Justices, but judges at the appellate level, every level of government, are people that adhere to that Constitution. That view the role of an appellate judge to apply the constitution, not to creatively manipulate it, not to creatively spin it to reach a policy conclusion they want. We’ve now reached a point where we have judges who believe, at least five Justices on the Supreme Court who believe that their job is to find creative ways to manipulate the constitution to reach policy outcomes they personally favor. That is not the job of our Justices. The job of our justices is to apply our constitution as strictly constructed by the founders, and by the amendments that followed them. The job of an appellate court is to apply the Constitution, not to expand it or manipulate it. My #1 criteria will be this, are you a strict constructionist. Do you believe the Constitution as written should be lived by. And do you understand that the only way to change the Constitution is through a convention or amendment process, not to create a judicial decision that expand the reach of the federal government to reach areas the federal government was never intended to reach. That document is a document of limitation. The constitution is a document that limits the power of government. It says straightforward, these are the only powers the federal government has. If they are not outlined here, the federal government does not have these powers. They belong to the states, local communities, and primarily to people. We need Justices that understand that. We need them today more than ever before.

I appreciate that Rubio is not falling  into the old traps of talking about “judicial restraint” or “legislating from the bench.” Although, I don’t even know what the phrase “strict constructionist” means anymore. He is exactly right about the doctrine of enumerated powers, and that Courts should not manipulate the Constitution to create things that aren’t there. There is a very strong originalist bend to his speech, even though he didn’t use the phrase–he should use it.

Disclosure: I advise the Rand Paul campaign.