We recently looked at a graphic circulating on social media, presumably assembled by backers of Sanders, that contrasted the two candidates’ views on a variety of issues. We found that the descriptions were Mostly True about the candidates’ stances on the death penalty and Mostly True about their positions on trade policy.
This time we’ll look at a graphic -- this one presumably put together by Clinton backers -- that compares them on a different set of issues.
Here, we’ll check the line in the graphic that says, "supports requiring all children to have a K-12 education." The chart says "yes" for Clinton and "no" for Sanders. (We asked the Clinton campaign if they wanted to comment, but they declined, saying that they had not produced the graphic.)
We had no difficulty tracking down the source of this claim, since the chart cites an article in the liberal magazine Mother Jones. Recently, the magazine has published a few articles reviewing Sanders’ early history in politics and activism.
In one, Mother Jones tracked down some of Sanders’ writings from a now-defunct newspaper called the Vermont Freeman. "Some of his rants bordered on libertarian," wrote Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy. In August 1969 in a column titled "Reflections on a Dying Society," Sanders wrote this:
"During his four races for state office as a Liberty Unionist, Sanders called for public takeover of utilities, a guaranteed minimum wage, the abolition of compulsory education, and a radical revision of the nation's tax structure," the 1981 article said.
In other words, the chart pegs Sanders’ current view on compulsory K-12 education to a column he wrote 46 years ago and to campaigns he ran in the early-to-mid 1970s.
That’s pretty weak support. Is there any evidence that Sanders still has the same stance today? His office declined repeated requests to supply an answer, but we found some evidence on our own in Sanders’ legislative record in the Senate.
In the previous Congress, Sanders introduced the DIPLOMA Act, which would have authorized grants for disadvantaged youth. The grants would be designed to ensure that "youth are ready for school," "are engaged and achieving in school," and that "students are ready for postsecondary education at institutions of higher education and 21st century careers."
He also introduced the Supporting Community Schools Act of 2013, which would give local educational agencies tools to transform under-performing schools. The goals of these efforts would be to improve student achievement, to close achievement gaps between groups of students, and to increase student attendance and graduation rates. (Neither measure advanced through committee.)
We couldn’t find any recent comments of Sanders opposing compulsory education.
A chart on the Internet said that Sanders does not support "requiring all children to have a K-12 education." However, it bases this claim on writings and campaigns from more than 40 years ago, and more recent legislative evidence indicates that Sanders supports a traditional view of K-12 education. We rate the claim False.
About this statement:Published: Monday, September 21st, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.
Researched by: Louis Jacobson
Edited by: Angie Drobnic Holan, Aaron Sharockman
Mother Jones, "How Bernie Sanders Learned to Be a Real Politician: A portrait of the candidate as a young radical," Tue May 26, 2015
Mother Jones, " 'You Might Very Well Be the Cause of Cancer: Read Bernie Sanders' 1970s-Era Essays," July 6, 2015
Seven Days, "Sanders on Sanders: Meet the Mayor," March 13, 1981
Bernard Sanders, "Reflections on a Dying Society" (in the Vermont Freeman), Aug. 1-3, 1969
Congress.gov, DIPLOMA Act, accessed Sept. 10, 2015
Congress.gov, Supporting Community Schools Act of 2013, accessed Sept. 10, 2015
An image circulating on Twitter and Reddit claims Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have opposing views on a host of issues, including the death penalty.
According to the image, Sanders opposes the death penalty, but Clinton supports it.
We wanted to see if the two candidates disagree on capital punishment. (See our other checks on the image here.)
Sanders and the death penalty
The Vermont senator has been an opponent of the death penalty for his entire political career. And with one exception, he has voted against expansions of the death penalty at every turn.
Sanders opposed the Violent Crime Prevention Act of 1991 during his first year in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"All over the industrialized world now, countries are saying, ‘let us put an end to state murder, let us stop capital punishment’," Sanders said in a 1991 speech on the House floor. "But here what we’re talking about is more and more capital punishment."
The bill, which included provisions to authorize the death penalty as appropriate punishment for crimes involving the murder of a law enforcement officer, terrorism and drug trafficking, never reached the desk of President George H.W. Bush.
In 1994, however, Sanders voted in favor of the final version of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, a bill that expanded the federal death penalty. Sanders had voted for an amendment to the bill that would have replaced all federal death sentences with life in prison. Even though the amendment failed, Sanders still voted for the larger crime bill.
A spokesman for Sanders said he voted for the bill "because it included the Violence Against Women Act and the ban on certain assault weapons."
Sanders reiterated his opposition to capital punishment in 2015. "I just don’t think the state itself, whether it’s the state government or federal government, should be in the business of killing people," he said on a radio show.
Clinton and the death penalty
Clinton’s campaign did not provide her stance on capital punishment.
The last time she publicly addressed capital punishment, which was 15 years ago, Clinton offered support.
In her 2000 run for U.S. Senate, she was quoted by a Washington Post columnist as saying the death penalty had her "unenthusiastic support."
Clinton’s history on the issue, however, is slightly complicated.
As director of the legal aid clinic at the University of Arkansas in the 1970s, Clinton helped to get the death sentence of a 20-year-old African-American man sentenced to life in prison. But according to a timeline of the case compiled by the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that focuses on criminal justice, Clinton’s views on the topic changed as her husband’s did.
Bill Clinton, then governor of Arkansas, is described as shifting his position on the death penalty as part of an effort to present himself as a centrist "New Democrat" in the 1980s.
Citing Paul Kengor’s 2007 book God and Hillary Clinton: A Spiritual Life, the timeline says that Hillary Clinton " ‘agonized’ over her husband’s embrace of capital punishment," eventually supporting it.
As first lady, she supported the 1994 crime bill that Sanders opposed.
After her election to U.S. Senate, she co-sponsored a bill that made it easier for prisoners on death row to appeal for exoneration through DNA testing.
Clinton hasn’t yet addressed the issue in the 2016 election cycle.
The infographic claims Bernie Sanders opposes the death penalty and that Hillary Clinton supports it.
Sanders has opposed the death penalty for at least the last 20 years, though he did vote for the 1994 crime bill that, among many other provisions, expanded the number of crimes that could result in death penalty sentences. While Clinton has helped make it easier to appeal a death sentence, her most recent documented statements on the topic expressed tepid support.
Without a clear idea of her most recent stance, we can only assume she still holds that position.
We rate the claim Mostly True.
About this statement:Published: Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015 at 10:28 a.m.
Researched by: Will Cabaniss
Edited by: Katie Sanders
Subjects: Crime, Criminal Justice
GovTrack.us, "H.R. 3371 (102nd): Violent Crime Prevention Act of 1991"
GovTrack.us, "H.R. 3355 (103rd): Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994"
The Thom Hartmann Show, May 1, 2015
Reading Eagle, "Support for death penalty out of line for Hillary," Jan. 11, 2000
The Marshall Project, "A (More or Less) Definitive Guide to Hillary Clinton’s Record on Law and Order," May 7, 2015
New York Times, "Death Penalty; Arkansas Execution Raises Questions on Governor's Politics," Jan. 25, 1992
Congress.gov, "Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act of 2003"
Email interview with Josh Schwerin, Hillary for America, Aug. 27, 2015
Email interviews with Warren Gunnels, Bernie 2016, Aug. 27 & Sept. 1, 2015