Trump vs. Clinton on Constitution, Supreme Court, and Nature of Rights

In last night's final presidential debate, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton debated the role of the Supreme Court and the interpretation of the Constitution and particularly addressed the issues of Second Amendment rights and abortion.  As in the past, Clinton articulated a judicial philosophy that advances a political agenda with no regard to the Constitution, laws, or even regulations:

CLINTON: . . . And I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy. For me, that means that we need a Supreme Court that will stand up on behalf of women's rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community, that will stand up and say no to Citizens United, a decision that has undermined the election system in our country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system. [I]t is important that we not reverse marriage equality, that we not reverse Roe v. Wade, that we stand up against Citizens United, we stand up for the rights of people in the workplace, that we stand up and basically say: The Supreme Court should represent all of us. 

That's how I see the court, and the kind of people that I would be looking to nominate to the court would be in the great tradition of standing up to the powerful, standing up on behalf of our rights as Americans. . . .

In contrast, Trump spoke of his respect for the Constitution and interpreting it according to its text:

TRUMP: . . . We need a Supreme Court that in my opinion is going to uphold the Second Amendment, and all amendments, but the Second Amendment, which is under absolute siege. I believe if my opponent should win this race, which I truly don't think will happen, we will have a Second Amendment which will be a very, very small replica of what it is right now. But I feel that it's absolutely important that we uphold, because of the fact that it is under such trauma. 

I feel that the justices that I am going to appoint -- and I've named 20 of them -- the justices that I'm going to appoint will be pro-life. They will have a conservative bent. They will be protecting the Second Amendment. They are great scholars in all cases, and they're people of tremendous respect. They will interpret the Constitution the way the founders wanted it interpreted. And I believe that's very, very important. 

I don't think we should have justices appointed that decide what they want to hear. It's all about the Constitution of -- of -- and so important, the Constitution the way it was meant to be. And those are the people that I will appoint.

After an extended discussion of the Second Amendment and D.C. v. Heller, the discussion turned to abortion rights and overturning Roe v. Wade:

TRUMP: Well, if [overturning Roe v. Wade] would happen, because I am pro-life, and I will be appointing pro-life judges, I would think that that will go back to the individual states . . . and the states will then make a determination. 

. . . 

CLINTON: Well, I strongly support Roe v. Wade, which guarantees a constitutional right to a woman to make the most intimate, most difficult, in many cases, decisions about her health care that one can imagine. . . . Roe v. Wade very clearly sets out that there can be regulations on abortion so long as the life and the health of the mother are taken into account. And when I voted [against the ban on partial-birth abortion] as a senator, I did not think that that was the case. . . . 

TRUMP: Well, I think it's terrible. If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. . . .  [I]t's not OK with me, because based on what she's saying, and based on where she's going, and where she's been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month on the final day. And that's not acceptable. . . .

The contrast between the two presidential candidates' views of the Constitution and the nature of rights was very clear last night.  For Clinton, rights are created out of whole cloth by unaccountable judges and extend only to those persons the judges approve - certainly not to the unborn.  For Trump, rights are inherent--not created by government officials--and are recorded in the Constitution, and judges should seek to interpret the text of the Constitution in deciding cases.