Libertarian Candidates Unclear On Supreme Court Picks


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Libertarian running mates Gary Johnson and Bill Weld gave conflicting opinions on the Supreme Court when Weld praised Justice Stephen Breyer while Johnson emphasized “original intent” Constitutional approaches.

Weld, the vice presidential nominee for the Libertarian ticket, lauded Justice Stephen Breyer in an interview with Reason Magazine. He claimed “Steve Breyer has been a good Justice. He was appointed by Democrats.” President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland was “a very good pick [to replace Antonin Scalia],” according to Weld. [RELATED: Is Obama’s Supreme Court Pick Actually A Moderate?]

Gary Johnson’s response contrasts with Weld’s views. When asked about possible Supreme Court nominees, Johnson responded that there would be “no litmus test,” adding that any nominee needs to view the Constitution through the lens of “original intent.”

“Original intent,” which aims to interpret the Constitution strictly as intended by the Framers, differs sharply from a “living document” interpretation. In the “living document” view, the intentions of the Framers are irrelevant, and the Constitution should change in accordance to social and political norms. Breyer falls in the “living” category.

The distance between Weld and Johnson on the courts evoked buyer’s remorse from some legal experts and now-former Johnson supporters.

Reason legal contributor Randy Barnett voiced his disappointment.

The interview closed with a question on Gary Johnson’s vision for the future. He pointed to the present and said “Has life in America ever been better than it’s been today? No, it hasn’t!” In regards to the future, Johnson stated that it is “wide open if we’ll just get a libertarian bent on the whole thing.”

Johnson and Weld are currently polling as high as 12 percent in some national polls and could be endorsed by Mitt Romney. If they consistently average 15 percent in major polls they will be included in the nationally televised presidential debates.

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