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DC – COURTS – Stakes high for Supreme Court as Trump battles for reelection

President Trump has a chance to transform the Supreme Court into a conservative supermajority if he wins another four-year term, underscoring the potential stakes of this year’s election for future court decisions on everything from the Second Amendment to abortion. If reelected, Trump would likely get the opportunity to replace ailing liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, and possibly fellow liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, 82, which would give conservatives a commanding 6-3 or 7-2 majority. It would also move the court’s fulcrum to the right of its current ideological center, Chief Justice John Roberts, whose stewardship of the court is seen by some conservatives with increasing skepticism. At the same time, a Democratic win in November could lead to a dramatic reshaping in the opposite direction. A Biden administration might get the chance to field a liberal replacement for conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, 72. He is currently the longest-serving member of the court, and his 28-year tenure is beyond the typical length of service. Though Thomas is not expected to leave the court in the near term, especially if Biden wins the White House, his surprise retirement would give a Democratic administration a chance to gain a 5-4 liberal majority, with a rejuvenated liberal bloc that might eventually count Justices Sonia Sotomayor, 66, and Elena Kagan, 60, as its oldest members. The looming churn on the Supreme Court bench means the upcoming vote could lead to relatively stable areas of law — concerning issues such as gun control, voting rights, campaign finance and abortion rights — being loosed from their legal moorings, creating an opportunity that both liberal and conservative groups hope to seize to extend their gains and forestall future losses.  [full article]

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