May 12th, 2008
02:12 PM ET
13 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. Susan Missouri

    Hillary needs to be the president!!!!!

    Hillary 08!!

    May 12, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  2. webdog

    Lets get this straight. The supreme court can only make abortion illegal for the poor. The rich will fly to a civilized country where it's safe and legal.

    May 12, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  3. Lyz in MD

    I think that the Supreme Court is often the last defense against unConstitutional legislation and I am deeply concerned that Bush's appointees are not interested in protecting the American people, only in protecting companies against civil rights legisltation intended to protect everyday Americans.

    Supreme court appointments are effectively for life, and I am very worried that a lot of people don't grasp the long-term impact that a McCain victory would have on our way of life. It would be a return to prosecution of gay Americans, and a return to back-alley abortions. And you can kiss the first amendment goodbye– McCain wants dissidents to "be thrown out of the country" and he would appoint justices who would do the same.

    Please bear that in mind when you go to vote. I think that most of the people saying Clinton or McCain are only posing as Clinton supporters– the Clinton supporters I've personally spoken to have said that they will work by my side to get the Democratic nominee elected, but I would, once again, warn all Clinton supporters not to fall for their tricks.

    The appointment of justices that will overturn Roe V. Wade is a lot more damaging to women's rights than the victory of the candidate that defeated her in the primary. Not to mention that the Iraq war is still an issue, and it's a women's issue as well. You don't want your sons and grandsons (and granddaughters) drafted and sent overseas, and now people are starting to find that wars create an increase in violence against women at home as well as invariably involving horrific rapes abroad.

    May 12, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  4. Dan

    What would the biggest Jewish group in our country do Wolf? They are the ones pulling the strings in our government and media!

    May 12, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  5. Len

    Will never vote for Obama.

    He isn't qualified to be President.

    May 12, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |

    I've already seen MSNBC stating that women will be forced to vote for Obama b/c of this issue.

    I hope women are not fulled into believing the court will overturn ROE V. WADE.

    I thought the Obama campain was against fear tactics to win votes. Oh how the higher road keeps sinking.

    CNN. You are still pushing Obama down our throats. I will not vote for your extreme leftist candidate.

    Conservative Dems for Hillary!

    May 12, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |

    I meant fooled...

    May 12, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  8. Dave, IN

    Wolf, you make an excellent point but, based on the number of comments, not many people understand the importance of what you've said. They're much more involved if you raise non-issue discussions about Clinton and Obama.

    As a counterpoint to your argument, however, a Supreme Court nominee must be approved by the Senate and it is unlikely that anyone too far away from the middle of the road politically would ever be approved. This would only change if one party or the other has an unbreakable majority

    May 12, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  9. Oregon

    Wolf Blitzer writes that Lieberman "supports McCain largely because of his stance on major national security issues." This is code language. It means Lieberman likes McCain's militaristic policy toward Arab countries.

    May 12, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  10. Jeanne

    I would like to see moderates on the bench. I like the ones Obama has mentioned as references to the type he would choose. I'm not as impressed with McCain's examples.

    May 12, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  11. Joseph, Los Angeles California

    I've been trying to tell people on the blogs to please stop being mad if your candidate does not win the nomination. There is so much at stake in this election this year. If Mr. McCain wins because anti- Obama and anti-Clinton backers vote for him or don't vote at all, we will all suffer another 4 years of the Bush policies and really lose the Supreme Court big time. The court needs balance, not one sided conservatism.

    Democrats, please, don't throw away this wonderful opportunity we have to get our country back, stop this ugly war so our families can stop burying our young people. I am an Obama supporter, but if Mrs. Clinton get's the nob, I will get up election morning, stand in line, and cast my vote for her. Obama will not fail us, and Hillary will not fail us. It's time to stop being mad at them and their supporters. Coming together is the only way will have the strength, intergrity, the will and ability to get our country back on track.

    Yours truly,
    Voting Democratic no matter what

    May 12, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  12. Ridgeway

    Lieberman is great. The emphasis on his name is in the "man" part.
    He cares more about the future of America than the sorry, lame, give away, pandering, socialist, cry baby, bed wetting, left wing, un-American, Demoractic Party.

    May 12, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. Phil in KC

    Sad to say, but I think too many people pay too little attention to this very important issue. Who sits on the Supreme Court and what decisions they make directly affects the lives of a very large percentage of our populace. It is one of the areas where the President's decisions have a direct impact.
    In short, it is very important and we cannot have the sort of nominee that President Bush has trotting out. Heaven help us if we have a 3rd Bush term under McCain.

    May 12, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  14. Dave G

    Woman that really want an abortion will usually find a way. With a McCain stacked supreme court, it appears we will go back to the "back-alley" abortions of the 50s. Not only will unborn babies die, but many mothers will die as well.

    Abortion is a religious issue. Religion is about faith. Faith is a personal journey. If we try to legislate morality, faith will suffer.

    So either way, overturning Roe vs. Wade is a bad idea.

    May 12, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. Joseph, Los Angeles California

    Dear "Sorry not this time," Take responsibility for your own vote and stop blaming everybody else. Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and everyone else you mentioned will not be in voting booth with you, you will be there alone making your own educated selection of how you want this country to be in the next 4 or 8 years. The choice is your and only yours.

    May 12, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. Shakur

    I am so glad that Wolf posted this story on the Ticker. I cannot see women voting for a person who would take their right to choose from them. As a man I would not want my daughter being told what she can or cannot do in regards to HER body. That's what I am here for. To help her make the decision that is best for her. Not some old judge who have no idea what is best for her.

    Think about the consequences before you vote!

    May 12, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. brian

    blah blah blah We heard the supreme court scare back in 2000 with Bush being elected and the court hasnt changed much from the clinton years it still 5-4 Bush replaced two conservatives with two more conservatives and if Mcain is elected the liberal will hold off on retiring until he is out of office, same for the conservatives if Obama wins. Roe vs wade wont be overturned and women will still be allowed to kill their babies. My God I cant believe that with the war and the economy in the hole that abortion would even be mentioned as an issue.

    May 12, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  18. Nick

    Justices who support laws that focus on the rights of individuals (liberal) vs the country (conservative) will find will find the courts overwhelmed with lawsuits because we're training our citizens to reject personal sacrifice for the good of the country and pursue individual choices.

    May 12, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  19. Larry

    What is paramount in filling the probable seats in the Supreme Court is maintaining a womans voice and seeing to it that racial minorities are considered in chambers. Clarence does not give that prespective and the last woman that left was replaced by a man. Roe v. Wade, well let's first publisize the fact that she lied when saying " a Blackman raped me and that is why I must have an abortion", which is the reason why it became a Supreme Court case and precident. Let's look at this issue with a fresh set of eyes and the in-put of this wonderful tool that we have called the internet and remove the "litmus" status.

    May 12, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  20. Dennis

    Another issue to consider: do you want McCain appointing conservative judges that can decide an election the way they did in 2000 when they handed the White House to Bush?

    May 12, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  21. Cindy

    It's hard to belive... that this is what it really comes down to... but I do remember the days before Roe vs Wade.. when stories about women aborting pregnacies with coathangers and bleeding to death... it wasn't that long ago...

    There will also come a time, when we have used stem-cell research to save people, like it was a no-brainer to do... You know, I did always say, if Clinton gets the nom, I would not have the stomach to vote for her in the general... but given the alternative, I would have to vote for her. I hope her supporters will come to that same realization, and do the same for Obama. Cause they are, after all is said and done... more alike than they are different.

    May 12, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  22. Lynn, Missouri

    There's also semi-automatic guns, eminent domain, and cruel and unusual punishment to so called POWs to think about. Democrats unite.

    May 12, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  23. fred

    Too bad will be your fault that McCain wins in November...and I as a democrat I will take my chances with McCain!!

    Go Hillary.....If not Hillary...then McCain!!

    I think IF Obama wins the nomination, you will also see the House and Senate go back to Republican.

    May 12, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Only a dump would vote for MCCANN
    OBAMA FOE PRESIDENT......................08

    May 12, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  25. Steve, IA

    I hope all the Hillary McCain supporters know that they are shooting themselves in the head. Ending Pro-Choice and causing the beer drinking democrats will pay out the nose financially under McCain. As a wine drinking democrat I can retire 10 years earlier with my Tax breaks that should have helped the poor.

    May 12, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
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