[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/04/art.blitzer.cnn.jpg 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?