May 12th, 2008
02:12 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: This year, the Supreme Court hangs in the balance

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Blitzer: A one- or two-vote swing could make all the difference on the nation's highest court."] (CNN) - The next President of the United States will have an enormous opportunity to shape the U.S. Supreme Court for decades. That’s because several members of the court are getting up there in years.

John McCain says he would pick Justices along the lines of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, two conservatives nominated by President Bush. Barack Obama told me last week that he would favor nominees along the lines of Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, two liberals nominated by former President Bill Clinton.

Clearly, the two presidential frontrunners have a major disagreement on this critically important issue, and no doubt it would be a major consideration for voters in the fall.

Given the current split among the nine Justices, the next one or two members will have an incredible opportunity to shift the balance. Among the most sensitive issues that could be considered would be the future of Roe vs. Wade and abortion rights for women.

I raised this issue the other day with Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut who supports abortion rights. The former Democratic vice-presidential nominee strongly supports John McCain. Lieberman voted to confirm the nomination of Roberts; he voted against Alito. The future of the Supreme Court, he said, is “a big issue for me. I’m a lawyer. I’m a former attorney general.”

He supports McCain largely because of his stance on major national security issues. I asked him if he feared Roe versus Wade would be oveturned by McCain’s future Supreme Court nominees. “Look,” he replied, “I think it’s the law of the land.” But he would be “upset” if it were overturned. “This is an important issue. But there are a lot of important issues. One is to protect our security. Senator McCain is by far best prepared to do that.”

How important is the future makeup of the Supreme Court to you?

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. Victor

    I Think its time McCain says who his runing mate is, because that will not also be an easy jobs for him.

    May 12, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  2. T

    Pastor Hagee must be held accountable for his anti-Catholic remarks.
    He is a false prophet and must repent for his Catholic bashing.

    May 12, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  3. Mike

    Wolfie! Again with the Flag Lapel Pin! I am a US Army Veteran (Volunteer) and have been a Police Officer and Fire Fighter for twenty years. I have never ever worn a Flag Lapel Pin. Jack Cafferty should have leaned over and slapped you when you brought it up.

    May 12, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  4. Art Salazar, San Antonio, Texas

    Who cares. They are politicians too and will vote in favor of whoever is in the white house unless it's a no brainer issue.

    May 12, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  5. Judy

    The issue is very important and a woman's right to control her own body is going to be reversed if McCain is elected. It's time for abortion to be taken off the public agenda and put where it belongs, a decision between a woman and her doctor. It's a medical issue, not a legal issue. In 2000 when Bush was running, I always felt that Supreme Court appointments was probably the most important issue going since the court appointees outlast the President by many years. A couple of more like Thomas/Roberts/Alito will set this country back a century.

    May 12, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  6. Lorraine

    There seems to be a misconception on the part of all the naive Barack-azoids out there that Clinton supporters are bitter because it appears she may lose. Wrong, clueless political neophytes. We are angry and disappointed, because a bunch of gullible Obama supporters are screwing things up for the rest of us. By allowing yourselves to be hypnotized by Mr. Slick, you have effectively disposed of the only substantive candidate out there–Hillary Rodham Clinton–and with her our chance to dig ourselves out of our current problems in a timely manner.

    You'll all grow up and realize the error of your gullible ways (and we have all been there), but it won't be in time to fix the damage 4 years (or God forbid, 8) of Barack's empty rhetoric will have caused.

    Keep track of what the "snakeoil-salesman in chief " does after he's elected–you'll see.

    May 12, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  7. Peter

    Which candidate I pick if the best is not there?
    HILLARY 08

    May 12, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  8. GUY

    Listen, the issue about abortion is ridiculous. I'm all for pro life stuff HOWEVER, until the pro life movement decides to figure out how to take care of the THOUSANDS of foster children in this country, then there is no platform to stand on in order to ask for change in Roe versus Wade. If we can't take care of the lives of children already born, why are we wasting our time trying to save a child that hasn't been born?! Solve the unwanted, already born, child problem we have and then we can discuss Roe versus Wade.

    May 12, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  9. Porter

    brian – you have no idea what you are talking about. The judges who are going to leave the court, the oldest judges, are Ginsberg and Stevens, who is in his 80s. These two can't wait for a democrat because of age. The conversative members on the other hand are all relatively young and not leaving soon. The Court will change more significantly this year. Plus, if a Democrat had been President, then Roberts and Alito would be progressive judges, thus giving the court 5 progressive judges, and 2 left leaning moderates. But nice try at making an educated post.

    May 12, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  10. Eli of Stockbridge

    The Supreme Court is looked over by the average voter. Laws come to life or die here. Remember the Supreme Courts role in the 2004 election process? Don't be fooled, it's almost as important as the presidency itself. Instead we concentrate on Rev. Wright, Rev, Hagee and Bill Clinton's antics.

    May 12, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  11. Ca Native

    OH PLEASE!!!

    If the President could simply appoint the Justice then this hysteria would be warranted. Nominees are highly scrutinized and Congress ultimately can stall/reject any nominee they didn't like – regardless who the President.

    But it makes for great political fodder – so keep beating the drums, CNN.

    May 12, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  12. KT

    Umm, where have you people been? There is already a Conservative majority on the Supreme Court that will not only overturn Roe vs. Wade but also affirmative action and equal employment opportunity. This was the result of Roberts and Alito getting confirmed. (essentially replacing a centrist in O'Connor with a hardliner in Alito)The 3 youngest judges on the court are Roberts, Alito, and Clarence Thomas none of whom is 60 yet. All of the liberal justices are over 70. (Stevens is 88). So even if Obama were to win, he would more than likely replace Stevens and one or 2 of the liberal judges, not enough to swing the Court back from the right. There's no way any of the young conservatives would step down and Scalia would not step down with a Democrat in the White House.

    May 12, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
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