America’s choice for president will likely ripple all the way to the halls of the sharply divided Supreme Court, the Washington Post reports. Since the next justice to retire is likely to be left-leaning, a Barack Obama victory would maintain the status quo of four conservatives, four liberals, and Anthony M. Kennedy serving as the swing vote. But if John McCain appoints the next justice, the court could swing decidedly to the right.
With recent decisions showcasing what a prominent lawyer terms “an almost exquisitely balanced court,” and the average age of the court's liberals at 75, judicial nominations should be central in November, says an expert. A McCain appointee could all but seal a conservative court for decades—Chief Justice John Roberts is 53, Samuel Alito is 58, and Clarence Thomas just turned 60.