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Buttigieg, Klobuchar lay out criteria for potential judicial nominees

Buttigieg, Klobuchar lay out criteria for potential judicial nominees
© Greg Nash

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete Buttigieg'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' Biden's win is not a policy mandate — he should govern accordingly MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff YouTube temporarily suspends OANN account after spreading coronavirus misinformation MORE (D-Minn.) laid out their criteria for picking federal court nominees in a rare round of questions about the judiciary at Thursday's Democratic presidential debate.

The candidates were asked how they would approach nominating judges given the success that President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE has had in shifting the judiciary to the right with the help of rapid confirmations by the GOP-controlled Senate.

“I would appoint judges who are in the vein of people like Elena KaganElena KaganCOVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries Will the Supreme Court take ObamaCare off life-support? How recent Supreme Court rulings will impact three battleground states MORE, and Justice [Stephen] Breyer, and Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorWill the Supreme Court take ObamaCare off life-support? Supreme Court grapples over Catholic organization's fight against nondiscrimination law Girl Scouts spark backlash from left after congratulating Justice Amy Coney Barrett MORE, and let's not forget the Notorious RBG,” Klobuchar said, using the nickname for Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgMcConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries Defusing the judicial confirmation process MORE.

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Klobuchar added that the next Democratic president will need to make judicial confirmations more of a priority than previous administrations have.

“That is one thing that we all learned from when President Obama was in, and that was that he was dealing with an economic crisis and it was hard to do it right away. But we have to immediately start putting judges on the bench to fill vacancies so that we can reverse the horrific nature of these Trump judges,” she said.

Buttigieg, who has made the most explicit push of any White House hopeful to reform the courts, said he would nominate judges and justices who value civil rights.

“It is critical that we have justices who understand that American freedom includes reproductive rights and reproductive freedom, but that's not all,” he said. “I expect an understanding that voting rights are human rights. I expect an understanding that equality is required of us all.”

“And I expect a level of respect for the rule of law that prevents this body from coming to be viewed as just one more partisan battlefield, which is why I will not only appoint judges and justices who reflect this worldview, but also begin moving to reform the body itself as our country has done at least half a dozen times in its history so that it is not one more political battlefield every single time a vacancy comes up,” he added.

Buttigieg has floated the idea of packing the Supreme Court with additional seats for justices and other steps designed to make federal courts less partisan.

The court questions at Thursday's debate came a day after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a key tenet of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the individual mandate, is unconstitutional. Democratic attorneys general have already vowed to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.