In 2016, I proposed a system of scoring political candidates (and especially presidential candidates) according to their level of support for the specific provisions of the Bill of Rights. Later that year, I rated the presidential candidates on the Virginia ballot. Now it’s time to do it with the 2020 candidates on Virginia’s presidential ballot.

The details of the scoring methodology are not repeated here. If you are interested in a more detailed treatment of the score components, you can refer back to that original post. You can also take a look below the chart for some notes that explain some of the scores, especially those that are based on assumptions rather than explicit statements by the candidates.

As I noted on the original post, the only good/acceptable score is an A+ (100%). Because presidents are sworn to protect and defend the constitution, they must comply with every single one of its provisions. Scores of A and B (80-99%) are bad. Scores of C and D (60-79%) are really bad. Scores of F (0-59%) are really, really bad.

Score Chart

  Biden (D) Jorgensen (L) Trump (R)
First Amendment F (4/10) A (10/10) B (8/10)
Religious Establishment (2 Points) 1 2 2
Religious Free Exercise (2 Points) 1 2 2
Free Speech (2 Points) 1 2 1
Free Press (2 Points) 1 2 1
Peaceable Assembly (2 Points) 0 2 2
  Biden (D) Jorgensen (L) Trump (R)
Second Amendment F (1/10) A (9/10) A (9/10)
Keeping Arms (2 Points) 1 2 2
Bearing Arms (2 Points) 0 2 2
Interstate Recognition (2 Points) 0 1 2
Unnecessary Restrictions (2 Points) 0 2 1
Treaty Imposition (2 Points) 0 2 2
  Biden (D) Jorgensen (L) Trump (R)
Third Amendment A+ (10/10) A+ (10/10) A+ (10/10)
Quartering (10 Points) 10 10 10
  Biden (D) Jorgensen (L) Trump (R)
Fourth Amendment F (2/10) A+ (10/10) F (2/10)
Search and Seizure (2 Points) 2 2 2
Civil Forfeiture (2 Points) 0 2 0
Data Security (2 Points) 0 2 0
Domestic Surveillance (2 Points) 0 2 0
Implied Consent (2 Points) 0 2 0
  Biden (D) Jorgensen (L) Trump (R)
Fifth Amendment D (6/10) A+ (10/10) F (4/10)
Due Process (2 Points) 2 2 1
Grand Jury and Jeopardy (2 Points) 2 2 2
Self Incrimination (2 Points) 1 2 1
Eminent Domain Abuse (2 Points) 0 2 0
Compelled Incrimination (2 Points) 1 2 0
  Biden (D) Jorgensen (L) Trump (R)
Sixth Amendment D (6/10) A+ (10/10) D (6/10)
Criminal Trial by Jury (2 Points) 2 2 2
Right to Counsel (2 Points) 2 2 2
Presumption of Innocence (2 Points) 0 2 0
Usurpation by Misclassification (2 Points) 0 2 1
Public Trials (2 Points) 2 2 1
  Biden (D) Jorgensen (L) Trump (R)
Seventh Amendment A+ (10/10) A+ (10/10) A+ (10/10)
Civil Trial by Jury (6 Points) 6 6 6
Reexamination of Facts (4 Points) 4 4 4
  Biden (D) Jorgensen (L) Trump (R)
Eighth Amendment A (9/10) A+ (10/10) F (3/10)
Excessive or Cruel Punishment (3 Points) 3 3 2
Torture (3 Points) 3 3 0
Death Penalty (2 Points) 1 2 0
Humane Treatment (2 Points) 2 2 1
  Biden (D) Jorgensen (L) Trump (R)
Ninth Amendment F (4/10) A (9/10) A (9/10)
Existence of Other Rights (2 Points) 2 2 2
The Source of Rights (2 Points) 0 2 2
Inalienable and Predicate Rights (2 Points) 0 1 2
Presumption of Liberty (2 Points) 0 2 1
Right to Privacy (2 Points) 2 2 2
  Biden (D) Jorgensen (L) Trump (R)
Tenth Amendment F (0/10) A (9/10) F (3/10)
Enumerated Powers (2 Points) 0 2 0
Interstate Commerce (2 Points) 0 2 2
Areas of No Authority (2 Points) 0 2 0
Presumption of Standing (2 Points) 0 1 0
Federalism and Subsidiarity (2 Points) 0 2 1
  Biden (D) Jorgensen (L) Trump (R)
Total Score F (52/100) A (97/100) D (64/100)

Notes and Comments

First Amendment

  • Biden (D): Generally supportive of individual speech and press rights, but consistently opposed to those rights for groups and supports disadvantaging religious groups.
  • Jorgensen (L): Consistently in favor of both individual and collective religious, speech, and press rights.
  • Trump (R): Though Trump is very strong on religious liberty, he is tepid on free speech and press rights.

Second Amendment

  • Biden (D): Supports only a limited right to keep (own or possess) arms for recreation and hunting. Openly hostile to all other rights encompassed in the Second Amendment.
  • Jorgensen (L): Supportive of Second Amendment rights; loses one point on interstate recognition because Libertarians often oppose federal imposition on state policy.
  • Trump (R): Supportive of Second Amendment rights, but has supported some unnecessary restrictions through BATFE regulations.

Third Amendment

  • All candidates are assumed to support the right of every homeowner to be free from the quartering of soldiers in their home.

Fourth Amendment

  • Biden (D): Fails to extend search and seizure rights to civil forfeiture or data security; supports warrantless domestic surveillance; likely to support implied consent laws.
  • Jorgensen (L): Supportive of the Fourth Amendment in its full breadth.
  • Trump (R): Fails to extend search and seizure rights to civil forfeiture or data security; supports warrantless domestic surveillance; likely to support implied consent laws.

Fifth Amendment

  • Biden (D): Opposes robust protections against self incrimination and against compelled incrimination in national security cases. Supports eminent domain abuse and the taking of property for private projects.
  • Jorgensen (L): Supportive of the Fifth Amendment in its full breadth.
  • Trump (R): Opposes robust protections against self incrimination and against compelled incrimination. Supports eminent domain abuse and the taking of property for private projects.

Sixth Amendment

  • Biden (D): Supports civil forfeiture and broad civil regulations that presume guilt. Likely to support usurpation by misclassification. Likely to support public trials.
  • Jorgensen (L): Supportive of the Sixth Amendment in its full breadth.
  • Trump (R): Supports civil forfeiture and broad civil regulations that presume guilt. Less likely than Biden to support usurpation by misclassification, but also less likely to support public trials.

Seventh Amendment

  • All candidates are assumed to support the right to a civil trial by jury and protections against the reexamination of facts.

Eighth Amendment

  • Biden (D): Opposes excessive or cruel punishment and torture and supports the humane treatment of prisoners. Previously supported the death penalty but has softened stance recently.
  • Jorgensen (L): Supportive of the Eighth Amendment in its full breadth.
  • Trump (R): Does not consistently support protections against excessive or cruel punishment and does not consistently support the humane treatment of prisoners. Supports torture and the death penalty.

Ninth Amendment

  • Biden (D): Acknowledges the existence of other rights, and the right to privacy, but denies or misunderstands the source of rights, denies the inalienable and predicate rights, and denies the presumption of liberty.
  • Jorgensen (L): Supportive of the Ninth Amendment, but denies that the right to life from conception to natural death is an inalienable and predicate right.
  • Trump (R): Acknowledges the existence of other rights, the source of rights, the inalienable and predicate rights, and the right to privacy. Insufficiently supportive of the presumption of liberty.

Tenth Amendment

  • Biden (D): Denies or ignores the entirety of the Tenth Amendment and does not acknowledge any apparent restrictions on federal authority.
  • Jorgensen (L): Supportive of the Tenth Amendment but neither Jorgensen nor her party has fully acknowledged a presumption of standing.
  • Trump (R): Consistently ignores the Tenth Amendment, but the Republican Party is making efforts to restrict the overuse of the interstate commerce clause.