Thursday, October 9, 2008
LA Times Op-Ed: The Candidates and the Supreme Court, by Erwin Chemerinsky:
Why are the two major presidential candidates virtually ignoring the importance of this election in determining the composition of the Supreme Court and the future of constitutional law? One of a president's most long-lasting legacies is in the judges he places on the bench. Justice John Paul Stevens, now 88 years old, was appointed by President Ford in 1975. If John G. Roberts Jr. remains on the court until he is 88, he would be chief justice until 2043...
If McCain gets to replace any of these justices, let alone more than one, there likely will be dramatic changes in many areas of constitutional law. There are almost certainly four votes on the current court -- Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito -- to overrule Roe vs. Wade and allow the government to prohibit abortion. In light of McCain's emphatic opposition to abortion rights, he likely would appoint the decisive fifth vote to end constitutional protection of those rights. Obama, by contrast, would almost certainly appoint individuals who would reaffirm Roe.