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Our Next President’s Impact on the United States Supreme Court

By Michael Morse | October 11, 2008

Though history will ultimately judge the legacy of President George Bush, we need not wait for the historians to determine that the President’s impact on the Supreme Court has been one of moving it decidedly to the right.  Conservative legal activists have hailed the nominations of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. and view President Bush’s agenda of creating a more conservative court as a remarkable success, regardless of any reservations or frustrations they may have regarding his overall performance as our country’s chief executive.

But now, with the presidential election only weeks away, the future of the Court again hangs in the balance.  Should Barack Obama be elected it is likely that with the support of a Democratic Senate we could see the resignation and replacement of three liberal justices, John Paul Stevens, age 88, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, age 75, and David Souter, age 69. Though not creating a liberal majority, as the Court consists of four liberals and four conservatives with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy creating a swing, it would narrow the age imbalance between the right and left (Antonin Scalia, the oldest justice on the right is only 72).   However, should the next president be John McCain, the opportunity arises for the creation of a clear conservative majority, which could affect legal precedence on constitutional issues ranging from the separation of church and state to a woman’s right to abortion.

Thus, as the Court reopens today for a new session, all eyes peer toward the future of the Judicial Branch, a future that will differ radically upon whom our country elects as its 43rd President.  Regardless of whether or not the next President is Barack Obama or John McCain that individual will be placed in the extraordinary position to greatly affect the makeup of our Supreme Court, which in turn will create the laws us citizens will be subject to for generations to come.

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