DonateSign upAbout
Back to All Candidates | Candidate Interview | Official Candidate Web site | Contribute to the Kerry campaign

Senator John Kerry

A letter to MoveOn members from John Kerry

Dear MoveOn Members,

Three words sum up why we need to take action today: The Supreme Court. I need you to join me in keeping the Supreme Court out of the hands of right wing ideologues. I am prepared to filibuster, if necessary, any Supreme Court nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman’s right to choose, on civil rights and individual liberties, and on the laws protecting workers and the environment.

If you agree with me that there should be no equivocation, no double-speak, no avoidance of the issue, then sign my online petition today at:

I will deliver this petition to Senate Democratic Leader, Tom Daschle, and the Ranking Democratic Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Pat Leahy, as well as their counterparts on the Republican side of the aisle – Majority Leader Bill Frist and Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch. We will assure that they hear our voices loud and clear that we will oppose a nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman’s right to choose, on civil rights and individual liberties, and on the laws protecting workers and the environment.

The criteria are basic: Any person who thinks it’s his or her job to push an extreme political agenda, rather than to interpret the law, should not be a Supreme Court Justice. Any person who thinks it’s his or her job to carry out the President’s political agenda, rather than to provide justice to ordinary Americans, should not be a Supreme Court Justice.

Make no mistake, we need to take back the White House in 2004 and that’s why I’m running for President. When I’m President there will be no John Ashcroft trampling on the Bill of Rights – but before I become President we must stop George W. Bush from using the Supreme Court to carry out the President’s political agenda, rather than to provide justice to ordinary Americans.

The differences today are clear: George Bush wants to criminalize the right of women to choose, he’s willing to take us back to the days of back alleys, to gag doctors and to deny families the right to plan and be aware of their choices. And don’t take my word for it: just look at who they’ve already tried to ram down our throats: Judges like Charles Pickering and Priscilla Owen who have long records of opposition to Roe v. Wade, have sought to restrict laws barring sexual discrimination, have supported a ban on interracial marriage, and have worked to narrow laws on gender discrimination. Or Judges like James Leon Holmes who dismissed arguments for the availability of abortion for rape victims claiming that conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami. Each year in America, over 30,000 women become pregnant as a result of rape or incest; snow falls in Miami roughly once every 100 years.

I believe America should move forward and advance our right to privacy and equal rights, the civil rights, and the right to choose in this nation.

No one is better at demanding action and holding government accountable than MoveOn.Org – and together we can stop the Bush right-wing juggernaut by mobilizing the United States Senate to reject any Bush Supreme Court nominee hostile to the rights of women to choose.


John Kerry
June 17, 2003

Sign the online petition at

Watch “Courage”, a video about John Kerry, by following these links:

RealPlayer -
Windows Media -
QuickTime -

Candidate Interview

These seven questions were among the most popular of over 1,800 posted and rated by MoveOn members on a MoveOn ActionForum. You can also read all of the interview responses on a single page.

1. PEACE (see what other candidates said)
The Bush administration has established the pre-emptive war doctrine as a cornerstone of its foreign policy. There is no end in sight to the ways in which this doctrine can be misused -- simply observe the lack of evidence to support the case for war in Iraq. In other words, barring a change in policy, any country can become the target of our military might. Furthermore, pre-emptive war only legitimizes military aggression by other nations as well. Will you repeal Bush's pre-emptive war doctrine?
--Ricardo Cisternas, Engineer (June 12, 2003; Carlsbad, CA)

I spoke out against it during the Senate’s Iraq debate, stating that we should not be “giving [Bush] carte blanche to run roughshod over every country that poses - or may pose - a potential threat to the United States.” Bush’s position is a blanket doctrine that can easily be misinterpreted and misapplied. The last thing we need is for India to justify an attack on Pakistan or China on Taiwan on the basis that it’s acceptable because it’s “preemptive.”

As President, I will use force when it is necessary to defend core American values and interests against imminent threats. But exercising that right when it’s absolutely necessary is not the same as choosing to go it alone in every situation, and it’s counterproductive to make preemption a doctrine.

I was in a war which started with a misrepresentation of facts and divided our country. Decisions about war and peace are the most critical a President can make, and as President I will make these decisions not just from the Situation Room but from the perspective of someone who has seen devastation on the battlefield, and spoken and marched to end a tragically misguided war.

2. FREEDOM (see what other candidates said)
The enactment of Patriot Act I is a dangerous erosion of civil liberties in the United States. The proposed Patriot Act II is even more frightening. The purpose of both pieces of legislations seems to be the stifling of dissent rather than improving security in the U.S. If elected would you revisit the Patriot Act with the view of revising or repealing it? If we cannot speak without fear, we aren't living in a democracy.
--Bonnie Mulligan, Supervisor (June 11, 2003; Lanham, MD)

We must never forget that the rights guaranteed us in the Constitution are precious, and one of the very first things that the terrorists we’re fighting would destroy. We do not need to give away our personal liberties to protect our country. We must defend our freedoms and defend ourselves against terrorism.

John Ashcroft has taken away far more liberties than this act ever authorized and that is wrong.

For example, The Bush Administration does not have the authority to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens as “enemy combatants” without charging them with a crime and without allowing them access to an attorney or any judicial review. I am outraged that the Justice Department’s has required tens of thousands of Muslim and Arab visa holders – students, workers, researchers, and tourists – to register with the government and be fingerprinted and photographed. This sweeping plan, proposed without any consultation with Congress, does little to provide real protection against terrorism. Instead it stigmatizes innocent Muslims and Arabs who pose no danger, and discourages those who want to support our law enforcement and counter-terrorism efforts.

I strongly supported including a sunset provision in the Patriot Act, which will cause the Act to expire unless Congress reauthorizes it. The Bush Administration reportedly plans to introduce a second “Patriot Act” – we have learned from the first Patriot Act that the last thing we need is John Ashcroft rewriting the Bill of Rights. I am alarmed by what has been reported to be part of “Patriot Act II” and I will very carefully review any new proposal and fight to ensure that it does not violate civil liberties. As President I would fight hard to win the War on Terrorism. But in the process, I would never forget the liberties and freedoms that we are fighting for in the first place.

3. RELEVANCE (see what other candidates said)
I think many people using are concerned with the disastrous effects of the current administration. However, my sense is that most of mainstream America either does not see the faults or is too scared, for reasons related to Homeland and economic security, to question Bush's authority. How will you, the candidate, frame your message and reach out to mainstream America to show how the upcoming presidential election is relevant to their situation and demonstrate how the actions, policies, corporate influence and diplomatic laissez-faire of Team Bush is unhealthy for our country and our future?
--Karen Zgoda, (June 12, 2003; Brighton, MA)

I trust Americans to think carefully about who is the best person to lead us into the future. And I have heard concerns about this Bush Administration all over the country from people of different backgrounds, careers, and incomes. People want to know why this President is rolling back environmental protections. Why everyone is sacrificing for the war on terrorism except millionaires who are just getting new tax breaks. And why is he selecting judges who want to turn back the clock on civil rights and workers rights and the right to choose.

In aftermath of 9/11, Americans demonstrated what a unified, patriotic country we can be. I want to tap into that spirit and call on Americans to make this country everything it can be - to turn around a jobless economy, to move forward on civil rights and environmental rights, and to build a strong future for this country.

We're going to remind this president that the American flag and patriotism doesn't belong to any political party - it belongs to all of us as Americans.

If Democrats can present Americans with a strong vision for our future, a strong vision that shows that we want to move American forward not backwards, I think most Americans will choose that future.

4. TRUTH (see what other candidates said)
I would like to know when a Democratic candidate will summon the courage to publicly question the honesty and truthfulness of President Bush. The barrage of spin alluding to intelligence failures and misleading advice of Bush's confidants belies the fact that he alone is ultimately responsible for his words and decisions. Will any candidate demand the truth and an end to this conspiracy of deceit?
--John Kowalko, Machinist (June 12, 2003; Newark, De.)

I believe the words of Harry Truman, the buck stops in the Oval Office. As President, I will take full responsibility for the actions of my office and my Administration.

There is nothing more serious than the intelligence information that we receive and
it should never be manipulated to mislead the American people. I believe we have to have an investigation to know to a certainty whether the Administration’s claims were hype, whether we were misled, and whether the CIA was serving the political purposes of the administration. I want answers to that. I believe that the Congress has the responsibility to get the facts and the President has the responsibility of coming clean on what his Administration knew and when they knew it.

I have seen first hand the destruction that occurs when an Administration misleads the people. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution began the Vietnam War, and we later learned that we hadn’t been told the truth. The consequence was that war weakened our military and divided our country for almost 30 years. We can’t allow this to happen again.

I believe this Administration must tell Americans the facts and I won’t rest until they do. I trust the American people and believe that when provided with the truth they will support decisions that are in the best interest of the country. And I believe all leaders should do the same.

5. SOCIAL PAIN (see what other candidates said)
The present Administration and Congress have enacted huge tax cuts and extreme military spending which may well limit the ability of government to address social needs (health care, education, affordable housing, poverty reduction, etc) for some time to come, as well as entrap future generations in debt. Meanwhile, social ills become more acute. How will you balance fiscal responsibility with the growing needs for health care reform, reinvestment in education and affordable housing, etc?
--Cindy Maxey, organizer, health care justice organization (June 11, 2003; Cleveland, OH)

This President has led the most fiscally reckless Administration in history. They have worked to turn the largest budget surplus in our history into the largest deficit, in the process killing more than 3 million jobs.

Luckily we have learned from the last time Republicans assaulted our economy with their schemes, that with leadership and the right priorities we can restore it. We can get rid of their reckless policies and invest in our people. The first thing we have to do is to roll back the Bush tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. Fiscally responsible tax cuts for working families can grow the economy, but there is no excuse for special tax cuts for the rich.

Then we can create jobs and invest in our people. I have outlined a proposal to expand health care coverage to all children and their parents as well as single adults – so that we have a strong safety net that covers every American who needs it. It also allows every American to get the same health care plan as their Member of Congress does today and gives subsidies to small businesses and the self employed. My plan also works to reduce the costs of health care – including a new proposal to help cover catastrophic costs and reduce premiums by up to $1,000 and a plan to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

My energy plan will create 500,000 well paying jobs while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and improving the environment. I am committed to funding education to assure that our teachers and students can meet our potential. Finally, I am committed to helping states with their current fiscal crisis that is causing states to raise middle class taxes and cut spending. With the right economic plan, we can turn our economy around, invest in people and reduce deficits all at the same time.

6. ENERGY (see what other candidates said)
Without dependence on fossil fuels, the air and water would be cleaner and we could free ourselves from our poisonous and deadly entanglements with Middle-Eastern oil dictators. What is your view? Can you show the imagination, innovation and determination needed to serve our country through serving the environment?
--Hilary Jirka, Merchandiser (June 12, 2003; Chicago, IL)

Today we have an energy policy of big oil, by big oil, and for big oil. There is a better way. With common-sense investments in advancing and speeding breakthroughs, we can harness the natural world around us to light and power the world we live in - the sun, the wind, water, and a rich array of crops can provide us with secure forms of energy at reasonable costs for a modern 21st century economy.

I recently unveiled a plan to increase America’s security and improve the environment, by ending our dependence on foreign oil within 10 years. Instead of indefinitely sending money to the Mideast for oil, we should launch an energy strategy to invest in the Midwest and in the rest of America, generating hundreds of thousands of new jobs and new technologies here at home.

Highlights of my plan include:

I believe that we have an unprecedented opportunity to harness the resources to improve our security, our environment, and our economy. As President, I will lead on this issue to make sure we realize that potential.

7. ENVIRONMENT (see what other candidates said)
The Bush administration is engaged in an all out war against the environment. Nothing is safe in this assault - not our national parks, wilderness areas, endangered species, the water we drink or the air we breathe. The administration's energy and land use policies are based on the recommendations of private corporate supporters rather than on government-funded studies, their own appointees in the EPA or on public opinion (in keeping with the general disregard for civil rights, more and more often, public comment is not being taken into consideration - sometimes not even being allowed in environmental disputes). The short-sighted policies of this administration could have devastating effects on our country and our planet. Can the Democratic candidate assure us that he will support progressive environmental policies here at home, and assume a leadership position in the global effort to protect the environment?
--A.L. Zuckerman, Associate Producer (June 12, 2003; New York, NY)

For thirty years in public life I have committed myself to environmental protection. As an activist, I participated in the first Earth Day in Massachusetts. As Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor, I worked with other states to reduce acid rain. And as a Senator, I led the fight to protect the environment from a Republican assault and earned one of the highest career ratings given by the League Conservation Voters.

My commitment is driven by the belief that we can safeguard the environment and grow our economy. I have fought hard to reduce the threat of global warming by supporting renewable energy and increased funding for climate change research. I have also called on the Bush Administration to stop blocking progress and to engage in international efforts to mitigate the threat of climate change.

I will advance a national energy policy promoting clean, renewable and domestic energy and energy efficiency. It is a policy to reduce the acid rain, soot, smog and pollution that degrade our environment and sicken our citizens, and it will create American jobs.

I will respect America's natural heritage and work to preserve our treasured public lands, like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I will work for clean water by protecting watersheds and wetlands, our rivers and lakes, and our oceans. I will ensure that our environmental laws are enforced and that polluters are brought to justice. I will invest in understanding and preventing still emerging environmental and health threats, like the potential threat of rising levels of chemicals in the environment. And I will end the Bush policy of environmental isolationism by leading the international effort to avert dangerous global warming, preserve rare ecosystems and species, and to promote sustainable development. We have a moral obligation to pass on to our children and grandchildren an earth that is as clean and precious as we found it. As President I will do everything in my power to meet that obligation.