Bil Browning

Grading the Presidential Candidates on Civil Liberties

Filed By Bil Browning | January 05, 2012 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: ACLU, civil liberties, political campaigns, political wedge issue, presidential campaigns, US Constitution

There's a very cool scorecard from the ACLU now that grades the presidential candidates on their positions on civil liberties. The top winner? Former Republican turned Libertarian Gary Johnson followed closely by President Obama and Jon Huntsman.

Since the presidential election began in earnest earlier this spring, the GOP candidates have been in a race to attach themselves to the DNA of Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln and Grover Norquist. This is nothing new. What is new -- and a race of its own -- is their ferocious competition to be seen as defenders and guardians of our Constitution.

Over and over during debates, on TV ads and splashed across campaign websites and Twitter feeds, the candidates have invoked the Constitution as a means of undermining policies they oppose and promoting policies they support.

It's a great political device to use a document revered as much as the flag itself. What sometimes gets lost, however, is that the Constitution wasn't written as fodder for political campaigns. It was written to be the foundation for all our freedoms.

Frequent commenter Sam Ritchie pointed out the flaw in the grading system over on ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero's Huff Po post about the scorecard.

Candidates of ALL parties??? You can't add ONE Libertarian candidate and say you're covering "candidates of all parties." Where are the other FIVE Libertarian candidates besides Gary Johnson? Where are the THREE announced Green Party candidates? If the ACLU is only going to pay attention to the two major parties, that's their decision. But don't claim that you're going to cover "candidates of all parties," and then ignore 8 out of 9 candidates for President from the two largest third parties in the country.

Fair enough. More after the break - including a handy dandy infographic.

Each candidate was graded from 1-4 torches on their stances on key issues like same-sex marriage, immigration policies, and using torture as an interrogation method.

Since the file is a pdf, I took a screenshot but I couldn't fit Rick Santorum into the picture. No matter, he got absolutely no positive marks. Empty torches for the entire row.


Clickety to embiggen or go check out the whole scorecard [pdf].

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