CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux, while moderating the second half of the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas on Thursday night, added her own "two cents" to a question she fielded from an "undecided voter." After the voter asked the nominees what qualifications a Supreme Court nominee should possess, Malveaux directed the question to Senator Christopher Dodd, and added whether or not he would "require nominees to support abortion rights."
LaShannon Spencer, who was identified as a member of the First African Methodist Church, asked the question near the top of the 10 pm Eastern hour. She highlighted how health care and the Iraq war had, in her view, dominated the questions during past debates. "We constantly hear health care questions, and questions pertaining to the war. But we don't hear questions pertaining to the Supreme Court justice or education. My question is, if you are elected president, what qualities must the appointee possess?"
Dodd answered Spencer’s question, as well as Malveaux’s addition. "I don't necessarily believe in applying litmus tests here. I think that's a dangerous precedent to begin that process here. You start down that path, others may follow it, you end up with a court then that may lack that kind of balance."
Debate moderator Wolf Blitzer then directed the attention to Delaware Senator Joe Biden. "Would you insist that any nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court supported abortion rights for women?" Biden surprisingly took issue with Malveaux’s addition. "Suzanne's decided. I'm not answering her question. I'm answering the question of the woman who was there, okay?" This reply also drew some applause from the audience. Blitzer then asked Spencer if she wanted Biden to answer Malveaux’s addition as well as her own question. Spencer repled that she wanted "both questions" answered. Biden then put his answer in the context of the so-called right to privacy.
The rest of the candidates then answered the question. Bill Richardson bounced off Biden’s focus on the "right to privacy," and added the he would ask any potential nominee if they thought Roe vs. Wade is settled law. Kucinich said he would have a "litmus test" on abortion. Clinton, Obama, and Edwards all essentially agreed with Biden and Richardson.