Barry, to address your critique of a McCain supporter’s prayer: people of all faiths are entitled to pray as they see fit. There is nothing wrong with wanting our government leaders, who make decisions that have a profound impact on our lives, to share our value systems. I agree with you that Americans should vote for candidates based on where they stand on important policy issues, but the values and principles upon which a candidate’s policy positions are based are also important to consider.


Barry, I’m also quite surprised that you’re asking the candidates to issue controversial theological statements such as “God does not do elections.” You’re entitled to believe that as a matter of personal theology, but many religious Americans believe that God is involved in all aspects of human affairs.


On the issues, the most recent Presidential debate reaffirmed that the candidates have starkly different positions when it comes to abortion. (You can watch the candidates address the issue of abortion during the debate at Hofstra University by clicking here.) When the topic of judicial nominations and overturning Roe v. Wade came up, Sen. Obama stated that judicial nominations are “going to be, I think, one of the most consequential decisions of the next president. It is very likely that one of us will be making at least one and probably more than one appointments and Roe v. Wade probably hangs in the balance. Now I would not provide a litmus test. But I am somebody who believes that Roe v. Wade was rightly decided.”


Sen. Obama added that “women in consultation with their families, their doctors, their religious advisers, are in the best position to make [the abortion] decision. And I think that the Constitution has a right to privacy in it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum . . . . With respect to partial-birth abortion, I am completely supportive of a ban on late-term abortions, partial-birth or otherwise, as long as there’s an exception for the mother’s health and life . . . .”


This is in line with Sen. Obama’s earlier comments at the Saddleback forum. When Pastor Rick Warren asked, “at what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?,” Sen. Obama said, “answering that question with specificity . . . is above my pay grade.” He added, “I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade . . . . I am in favor . . . of limits on late-term abortions, if there is an exception for the mother’s health. . . .”


By contrast, when Rick Warren asked Sen. McCain “[at] what point is a baby entitled to human rights?” at the Saddleback forum, he responded: “At the moment of conception. I have a 25-year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate. And as president of the United States, I will be a pro-life president. And this presidency will have pro-life policies. That’s my commitment. That’s my commitment to you.”


At this week’s debate, Sen. McCain stated of Roe v. Wade, “I thought it was a bad decision. I think there were a lot of decisions that were bad. I think that decisions should rest in the hands of the states. I’m a federalist. And I believe strongly that we should have nominees to the United States Supreme Court based on their qualifications rather than any litmus test.”


“I would consider anyone in their qualifications,” said Sen. McCain, but added, “I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test.”


When it came to judicial appointments, Sen. Obama said: “I will look for those judges who have an outstanding judicial record, who have the intellect, and who hopefully have a sense of what real-world folks are going through.” Sen. McCain’s answer to that question was “I will find the best people . . . in the United States of America who have a history of strict adherence to the Constitution–and not legislating from the bench.”


Barry, I’m sure we can agree that it is good that the candidates addressed the issue of abortion. It is also clear that they represent two very different viewpoints.


While they touched on the issue of judicial nominees, I would like to hear more about the judicial philosophy of each candidate and hear more about the kind of judges they would appoint. Since the next President will have a major impact on the judiciary for years to come–including most likely the Supreme Court–I would like this issue explored more thoroughly.


Barry, what about you?


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