Recent history reflects the importance of presidential elections to Supreme Court decision-making. As such, it’s a valid topic that can help form a decision when casting a ballot.
A visit to the recent past can illustrate this.
In 2005, President George W. Bush selected the replacements for William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor. Had it been Bush’s electoral opponent Al Gore in office, those appointments would have been less likely to have upheld the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act in Gonzales vs. Carhart (2007), find for the right of individuals to own and possess guns in District of Columbia vs. Heller (2008), or uphold the right for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money in elections in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission (2010).
And in 2008, had Presidential hopeful John McCain taken office rather than President Barack Obama, the replacements for David H. Souter and John Paul Stevens would have been more likely to uphold Arizona’s restrictive immigration law, SB 1070, in Arizona vs. United States (2012), and potentially there would have been six votes on the court to eliminate affirmative action in Fisher vs. University of Texas, which was argued on Oct. 10.
Whomever wins next week’s election, it is likely they will have the opportunity to influence the Supreme Court as well. Four justices are in their mid- to late 70s: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 79; Antonin Scalia and Anthony M. Kennedy are both 76; and Stephen G. Breyer is 74. While there is no certainty that any of these justices will vacate their seat, it is also entirely possible that one or more will.
Because Supreme Court Justices will have an impact on the court case surrounding the issues we hold dear, it’s wise to consider how the next president may reflect your values not only through legislation, but through the legal interpretations of those they would be inclined to seat upon our highest court.
Your voice when you vote carries further than the Oval Office.