Second Debate: Major Differences About Corporate Speech and Campaign Funding Emerge

Important differences emerged in the second presidential debate on October 9, 2016. The candidates were finally questioned about Supreme Court Justices. Martha Raddatz was one of the moderators. She turned to audience member Beth Miller to ask a question near the end of the debate. Candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump described their views on corporate speech and other Court issues. (transcript below)


The first specific issue Hillary Clinton mentions is the notorious Citizens United v. FEC case where the Supreme Court granted unlimited “electioneering” or campaign spending rights to corporations in a 5-4 decision. Hillary Clinton says she “would want to see the Supreme Court reverse Citizens United and get dark, unaccountable money out of our politics.”

Hillary Clinton also says she would like Roe v. Wade and the recent gay marriage decision to stand.

Donald Trump replies that he has “more than a hundred million dollars invested, pretty much self-funding of mine.” He then challenges Hillary Clinton to do some self-funding too. Donald Trump brings up gun rights saying that the “Second Amendment … is totally under siege by people like Hillary Clinton.”

Donald Trump hired David Bossie as his deputy manager of the campaign. David Bossie was a long-time president of the nonprofit Citizens United that sued for expanded funding of electioneering. Donald Trump’s list of potential nominees would not overturn Citizens United.

Hillary Clinton has always opposed the Citizens United case, despite taking money to compete in elections. She pledged to appoint someone who would oppose it. Four Justices have specifically indicated they are prepared to overturn the case either on factual issues or even the precedent itself. There is already a case in the pipeline that has promise to reach the Supreme Court. The Court is divided 4-4 on the issue. There is a vacant seat ready to break the tie.

The landscape has been prepared. With the overwhelming support of the people and high expectations, this is not something that may be swept under the rug, despite skepticism. It is likely to happen. If not, Democrats will face an outsider challenge again in 2020 — and after seeing how well independent Bernie Sanders did this year, success is a realistic possibility.

As for gun rights, the Supreme Court decided in the 2008 Heller case that a city could not ban the ownership of operable handguns. While this was also a 5-4 decision, those same four justices specifically refused to consider overturning the gun rights decision in a unanimous case later. The only questions remaining are registration and licensing.

The video below starts at the question. (transcript below)


BETH MILLER: Perhaps the most important aspect of this election is the Supreme Court Justice. What would you prioritize as the most important aspect of selecting a Supreme court Justice?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well you’re right. This is one of the most important issues in this election. I want to appoint Supreme Court justices who understand the way the world really works, who have real life experience, who have not just been in a big law firm and maybe clerked for a judge and then gotten on the bench but, maybe they tried some more cases, they actually understand what people are up against because I think the current court has gone in the wrong direction.

And so I would want to see the Supreme Court reverse Citizens United and get dark, unaccountable money out of our politics. Donald doesn’t agree with that. I would like the Supreme Court to understand that voting rights are still a big problem in many parts of our country, that we don’t always do everything we can to make it possible for people of color and older people and young people to be able to exercise their franchise. I want a Supreme Court that will stick with Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose and a Supreme Court that will stick with marriage equality.

Now Donald has put forth the names of some people that he would consider. And among the ones that he has suggested are people who would reverse Roe v. Wade and reverse marriage equality. I think that would be a terrible mistake and would take us backwards.

I want a Supreme Court that doesn’t always side with corporate interests. I want a Supreme Court that understands because you’re wealthy you can give more money to something doesn’t mean you have any more rights or should have any more rights than anybody else.

So I have very clear views about what I want to see to change the balance on the Supreme Court. And I regret deeply that the Senate has not done its job, and they have not permitted a vote on the person that President Obama — a highly qualified person — they’ve not given him a vote to be able to have the full compliment of nine Supreme Court Justices. I think that was a dereliction of duty. I hope that they will see they’re way to doing it, but if I am so fortunate enough as to be president I will immediately move to make sure that we fill that — we have nine Justices — and we get to work on behalf of our people.

DONALD TRUMP: Justice [Antonin] Scalia, great judge, died recently and we have a vacancy. I am looking to appoint Justices very much in the mold of Justice Scalia. I’m looking for judges — and I’ve actually picked 20 of them so that people would see, highly respected, highly though of, and actually very beautifully reviewed by just about everybody, but people that will respect the Constitution of the United States. And I think that this is so important.

Also, the Second Amendment which is totally under siege by people like Hillary Clinton — they’ll respect the Second Amendment and what it stands for and what it represents. It’s so important to me. Now Hillary mentioned something about contributions.

Just so you understand, I will have in my race more than a hundred million dollars put in of my money, meaning I’m not taking all of this big money from all of these different corporations like she’s doing. What I ask is this — I’m putting in more than — by the time it’s finished I’ll have more than a hundred million dollars invested, pretty much self-funding of mine. We’re raising money for the Republican Party and we’re doing tremendously on the small donations — 61 dollar average or so.

I ask Hillary why doesn’t she make 250 million dollars by being in office? She used the power of her office to make a lot of money. Why isn’t she funding — not for a hundred million but why don’t you put ten or 20 or 25 or 30 into your own campaign? It’s 30 million dollars less for special interests that will tell you exactly what to do, and it would really I think be a nice sign to the American public.

Why aren’t you putting some money in? You have a lot of it. You’ve made a lot of it because of the fact that you’ve been in office. You’ve made a lot of it while you were Secretary of State actually. So why aren’t you putting money into your own campaign. I’m just curious.

MARTHA RADDATZ: Thank you very much. We’re gonna get on to one more question.

But the question was about the Supreme Court and I just want to quickly say …

MARTHA RADDATZ: … Very quickly …

HILLARY CLINTON: I respect the Second Amendment but I believe there should be comprehensive background checks and we should close the gun show loophole and close the online loophole and try to save as many lives as we possibly can.

Two different people are always different and cannot be exactly alike. The corporate speech issue is a serious difference. Everyone should vote — whether that is for the “mainstream” parties or for another candidate.