Topics in the News: Litmus Test

Newt Gingrich on Health Care : Jun 13, 2011
If you mandate healthcare, you mandate everything in life

Q: You've been very open to the individual mandate. It has become a litmus test in this Republican primary. Should it be?

A: Yes, it should be. If you explore the mandate, it ultimately ends up with unconstitutional powers. It allows the government to define virtually everything. And if you can do it for health care, you can do it for everything in your life, and, therefore, we should not have a mandate.

But I want to answer at a different level. This campaign cannot be only about the presidency. We need to pick up at least 12 seats in the Senate and 30 or 40 more seats in the House, because if you are serious about repealing Obamacare, you have to be serious about building a big enough majority in the legislative branch that you could actually in the first 90 days pass the legislation. So I just think it's very important to understand, it's not about what one person in America does. It's about what the American people do. And that requires a senatorial majority, as well as a presidency.

Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in Manchester NH

Barack Obama on Abortion : Oct 15, 2008
No litmus test; nominate to Court based on their fairness

Q: Could you ever nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagrees with you on Roe v. Wade?

McCAIN: I would never, and have never in all the years I’ve been there, imposed a litmus test on any nominee to the Court. That’s not appropriate to do.

OBAMA: Well, I think it’s true that we shouldn’t apply a strict litmus test and the most important thing in any judge is their capacity to provide fairness and justice to the American people. And it is true that this is 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 vs. Wade probably hangs in the balance. 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.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain

Mitt Romney on Principles & Values : Dec 16, 2007
Ok to appoint atheists or agnostics--no litmus test of faith

Q: If you determined that the most qualified person for the Supreme Court or for attorney general or secretary of education happened to be an atheist or an agnostic, would that prevent you from appointing them?

A: Of course not. You look at individuals based upon their skills and their ability, their values, their intelligence. And there are many who are agnostic or atheist or who have very different beliefs about the nature of the divine than I do, and, and you evaluate them based on their skills. But I can tell you that I myself am a person of faith and respect the sense of the common bond of humanity that comes from that fundamental belief.

Q: But there’d be no litmus test?

A: No, no. There’s no litmus test of that nature.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series

Rudy Giuliani on Immigration : Jun 3, 2007
Need tamper-proof IDs, and database for immigrants

Q: What do you think the consequences for the nation are if this immigration plan proposed by Pres. Bush goes through?

A: The problem with this immigration plan is it has no real unifying purpose. It’s a typical Washington mess. Everybody compromises, and the compromises leave you with the following conclusion. The litmus test you should have for legislation is: will it make things better? And when you look at these compromises, it is quite possible it will make things worse. The organizing purpose should be that our immigration laws should allow us to identify everyone who is in this country that comes here from a foreign country. They should have a tamper-proof ID card. It should be in a database that allows you to figure out who they are, why they’re here, make sure they’re not illegal immigrants coming here for a bad purpose, and then to be able to throw out the ones who are not in that database. We can do that. Credit card companies take care of data that is greater than that.

Click for Rudy Giuliani on other issues.   Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College

Rudy Giuliani on Abortion : May 14, 2007
Appoint constructionist judges, but no litmus test

Q: Would you personally be disappointed if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade?

A: I don’t think it’s a question of being disappointed or being happy about it. I think it’s a question of not wanting to make this a litmus test for judges, so that a judge feels free to listen to the facts, listen to the arguments, and come to the decision they think is the correct interpretation of the Constitution. Some strict constructionist judges are going to decide it was wrongly decided. Other strict constructionist judges may give more weight to the precedential value of it, the fact that it’s been the law for this length of time. You can see the tension there between these two things. And I think the court should be allowed to decide this.

Q: Would you nominate someone whose record shows that he opposes a woman’s right to choose?

A: If I thought that on 20 other issues they would be terrific, I might be able to, sure. I don’t consider it a litmus test.

Click for Rudy Giuliani on other issues.   Source: Fox News Sunday: 2007 “Choosing the President” interviews

Joe Biden on Abortion : Apr 26, 2007
Nominees should agree on constitutional right to privacy

Q: As president would you have a specific litmus test question on Roe v. Wade that you would ask of your nominees for the high court?

A: I strongly support Roe v. Wade. I wouldn’t have a specific question but I would make sure that the people I sent to be nominated for the Supreme Court shared my values; and understood that there is a right to privacy in the United States Constitution. That’s why I led the fight to defeat Bork, Roberts Alito, and Thomas.

Click for Rudy Giuliani on other issues.   Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC

Mitt Romney on Abortion : Mar 12, 2007
Would welcome overturning Roe v. Wade

Q: Would you welcome the overruling of Roe v. Wade by the Court?

A: Yes. I would like to see each state be able to make its own decision regarding abortion rather than have a one-size-fits-all blanket pronouncement by the Supreme Court.

Q: Would you have a “litmus test” of any sort when it came to nominees for the Supreme Court?

A: I think we’d all like to apply a litmus test. Each of us would like to say, “Here are all the decisions that are going to come up. How will you vote?” But I don’t think that’s the process that you’re going to see employed by me or, frankly, by others as well. Doing it that way would make it very difficult for the nominee to be confirmed. There will not be a litmus test. Instead, there will be a philosophical test, which is: “Is this a person who follows the law, who abides by the Constitution, who will strictly construe the Constitution as intended, or is this a person who looks to expand upon the Constitution to ‘write’ laws without the benefit of legislation?”

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: A Mormon in the White House, by Hugh Hewitt, p.103-104

  • Additional quotations related to Litmus Test issues can be found under Abortion.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Abortion.
Candidates on Abortion:
Pres.Barack Obama
V.P.Joe Biden
Secy.Hillary Clinton
GOP Candidates:
Rep.Michele Bachmann(MN)
Herman Cain(GA)
Rep.Newt Gingrich(GA)
Gov.Jon Huntsman(UT)
Gov.Gary Johnson(NM)
Rep.Thaddeus McCotter(MI)
Rep.Ron Paul(TX)
Gov.Rick Perry(TX)
Gov.Tim Pawlenty(MN)
Gov.Buddy Roemer(LA)
Gov.Mitt Romney(MA)
Sen.Rick Santorum(PA)
GOP Withdrawals:
Gov.Haley Barbour(MS)
Gov.Chris Cristie(NJ)
Mayor Rudy Giuliani(NYC)
Gov.Mike Huckabee(AR)
Gov.Bobby Jindal(LA)
Gov.Sarah Palin(AK)
Donald Trump(NY)
Please consider a donation to OnTheIssues!
Click for details -- or send donations to:
1770 Mass Ave. #630, Cambridge MA 02140
(We rely your support!)