Whoever wins the presidency in November will be looking at a high court with several elderly justices. Most of them are liberals: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who has battled cancer) is 79. Stephen Breyer is 73. And Anthony Kennedy, usually the court’s swing vote, is 75. The oldest true conservative: 75-year old Antonin Scalia.
Let’s say Obama wins a second term. Ginsburg, Breyer, or both could choose to retire, confident that the president would pick someone of a similar ideological bent. (On the other hand, isn’t that what Bush thought of Roberts?) Obama has already picked two justices. If he were to serve another four years, it is not inconceivable that he could select four, perhaps five justices in total — setting his philosophical stamp on the court for decades to come.
But the stakes are probably even higher if Romney were to win. Those liberal justices would still be the oldest and most likely to go (one way or the other), though none have indicated that they’re thinking of stepping down. Could they outlast a potential eight-year Romney tenure? If he were to replace a liberal justice or two, the court would swing decisively to the right.
So if you think the stakes are high this November and for the next four years, consider this: Whoever you cast your ballot for — Mitt Romney or Barack Obama — you’re really casting a vote that could resonate for 30 or 40 years. If that’s not reason to show up the polls, then nothing is.”