"One of the most enduring legacies of the next president will flow from a few words in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution: the power to nominate justices to the Supreme Court. With the court still shorthanded after the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, and with two of its sitting justices older than 80, the next president will shape the court, and through it the law of the land, for decades to come.
This has not been lost on the candidates.
- "The replacement for Justice Scalia will be a person of similar views and principles. This will be one of the most important issues decided by this election," Donald Trump said in his convention speech last week.
- "If you don't believe this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country," Bernie Sanders said this week at the Democratic National Convention.
- And Hillary Clinton said in her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention: "We need to appoint Supreme Court justices who will get money out of politics and expand voting rights, not restrict them. And we'll pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United!"
Clearly, the court will take a different shape under a President Trump than it would a President Clinton. But just how different, and how quickly? Very different and, if Clinton wins, very quickly. If Donald Trump is elected president, the Supreme Court may, seat by vacated seat, move rightward toward its most conservative position in recent memory. If Hillary Clinton is elected, the court may quickly become the most liberal it's been in at least 80 years."