For a half century, presidential candidates have routinely claimed that there are no bigger stakes in the election than the next appointments to the Supreme Court.
This year, for the first time since 1968, the dire warnings could actually have an important effect on voting behavior.
Since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February, the court has deadlocked 4-4 on four cases, including a few big ones. On a number of others, a single vote determined the outcome. In addition, Merrick Garland, the nominee to release to replace Scalia, will still be waiting for review by the Senate on Election Day; two justices will be in their 80s, and one will be 78.
It is likely that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will have at least two or three appointments in a first term. And that will shape a number of important issues, ranging from immigration to racial preferences, as well as the role of unions and environmental issues.