The remarks by Sanders and Clinton stand in contrast to those of President Obama, who rejected the use of any case- or issue-specific litmus test when selecting Supreme Court nominees.
The idea of a specific litmus test for judicial nominees has long been criticized as a threat to judicial independence. See, for instance, Eugene’s comments from 2005. In the George W. Bush administration, prospective judicial nominees were asked about their judicial philosophy, but not specific issues.
UPDATE: It is interesting to compare the remarks of this year’s candidates with those made in 2008 by Senators McCain and Obama. During one of their debates, when asked about judicial nominations, both eschewed any resort to litmus tests.
SECOND UPDATE: Last night, during the Democratic primary debate, Bernie Sanders said the following:
So long as big money interests control the United States Congress, it is gonna be very hard to do what has to be done for working families. So let me be very clear. No nominee of mine, if I’m elected president, to the United States Supreme Court will get that nomination unless he or she is loud and clear, and says they will vote to overturn Citizens United.