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The Election could tip balance of Supreme Court. But we all know that. It’s why Bush cannot be elected. It’s too frightening a concept, since it looks like between one and four may retire. If hardliners are appointed, we can kiss several things goodbye — abortion rights, gay rights, privacy rights…you name it.

All but one of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices is over 65, and many Court watchers expect at least one, perhaps as many as four, retirements in the next four years.

Any change could potentially have enormous political, social and legal implications on a range of hot-button issues.

“It could change the way this country operates for the next 40 years, well beyond the time the president is in power,” said Paul Rothstein, a Georgetown University law professor.

The issue has come up in two presidential debates and is hotly debated among a number of political and issues groups, who have used a possible change on the Court to rally supporters and raise money for their causes.

Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic challenger has also aired television ads. In one from April, a narrator says, “The Supreme Court is just one vote away from outlawing a woman’s right to choose. George Bush will appoint anti-choice, anti-privacy justices. But you can stop him. Help elect John Kerry.”

One reason for voter interest is that a closely divided electorate mirrors the Supreme Court’s current ideological makeup, and a change of a singe justice could quickly shift the future of laws affecting abortion, death penalty, gay rights, race relations, religious expression, and the power of the federal government to override state laws.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding