Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Clash Over Supreme Court, Guns, Abortion

Donald Trump speaks as Hillary Clinton listens during their debate in Las Vegas on October 19. They discussed the U.S. Supreme Court, guns and abortion in the first 20 minutes of their last matchup of the 2016 election season. Mark Ralston/Pool/Reuters

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton discussed the U.S. Supreme Court, guns and abortion within the first 20 minutes of the final presidential debate, the most time spent on these divisive issues during their three forums in the general election season.

Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News began the debate by asking the candidates where they want the Supreme Court to take the country.

The presidential hopefuls have differing views of the Supreme Court, where a seat has remained vacant since the death of Antonin Scalia in February. Top Republicans have long said they won't grant Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's nominee for the seat, a hearing because they want to wait for the next commander in chief to choose Scalia's successor. The next president likely will fill several seats on the high court during his or her tenure.

Onstage at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Democratic nominee Clinton said she supports a Supreme Court that stands on the side of the American people, not corporations, and in answering a second question about the court, she said she supports upholding the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which allows Americans to own guns. But, as she has done throughout her presidential campaign, the former secretary of state said there must be reasonable regulation on firearms, and she said she supports expanding background checks to all guns sold on the internet and at gun shows.

Republican nominee Trump during his opening remarks mentioned comments made by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in July, when she joked about moving to New Zealand if he wins the White House. Early on in the debate, he also declared that the Second Amendment is under "absolute siege" and "under such trauma," and he vowed to appoint justices who "will not do damage" to the ability of Americans to own guns. In the past, the former reality TV star has supported an assault weapons ban and longer waiting periods to purchase guns; now he has the National Rifle Association's endorsement, and he opposes limits on assault weapons and ammunition magazines, and he supports a national right to carry.

Trump said the Constitution should be interpreted "the way the founders wanted it."

Throughout the election season, gun-safety groups, including the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Americans for Responsible Solutions, have called on the debate moderators to discuss guns.

On abortion, Clinton said she strongly believes the government should stay out of women's health issues and that she has defended Planned Parenthood and Roe v. Wade, while Trump, who has come out against abortion rights, said he thinks the Supreme Court's landmark abortion decision would be overturned within than three weeks if he is elected president.

The candidates did not shake hands at the start of the debate, as was the case at their second debate earlier this month in St. Louis. The final forum came as the Trump campaign battles to recover from a dismal past few weeks, which included several women accusing him of inappropriate sexual behavior.