The economy is in the toilet, gas is still through the roof and Americans are feeling the pinch more than ever. Although the situation on the ground in Iraq has drastically improved, the same cannot be said in Afghanistan. However, despite all of these pressing national and global issues that resonate today, the most important aspect of the current presidential election will center on an issue involving only two or three individuals, who could drastically change this country for generations to come.
The next president of the United States is going to appoint at least two and possibly three new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court due to anticipated retirements that are almost certainly coming during the next presidential administration. Supreme Court justices, who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the senate, receive lifetime appointments. Unlike any other government appointment, judges are assured lifetime positions to avoid excessive executive branch influence on the judicial branch.
The Supreme Court is more or less equally divided with conservative and liberal views as we stand today. This means that a Supreme Court with only nine justices, adding three liberal or three conservative judges will absolutely change the face of the court for decades to come.
On no issue is this point more relevant than that of abortion. Roe v. Wade, which established in 1973 that abortion bans were illegal under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution, is going to be challenged at the Supreme Court at some point in the very near future. The stakes will include the legality of abortion in the United States, and the Supreme Court's decision will absolutely be affected by the next president's Supreme Court appointments.
Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is a firm pro-life candidate who has said that he will be a "pro-life president." Sen. McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. It is clear that if McCain wins the election, the judges he appoints will probably be pro-life. It is a very strong possibility that if he wins the election, abortion will become illegal in the United States based on the probability of a conservative court overturning Roe v. Wade.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the Democratic nominee for president, has established a clear pro-choice record so far in his political career. Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), also supports a woman's right to choose. Obama would almost certainly appoint Supreme Court judges who would maintain Roe v. Wade, and possibly even expand access to abortions and overall abortion laws in the United States.
Abortion is such an important issue nationwide, and particularly to college-age people, it is an essential question that must be considered when deciding for whom you plan to vote. There are several thousand abortions performed on college-age women right here in Connecticut every year. For women, the legality of being able to walk into a legitimate clinic to have an abortion performed by a licensed physician is not guaranteed if McCain wins this election. Some people believe this is a good thing; it may dissuade women from having abortions, which some consider murder. Others view this as preposterous. If abortions are made illegal, people will simply follow the example of what women do in other countries where abortion is illegal: find corrupt, illegitimate doctors who are willing to perform backdoor operations at great medical risk and great financial cost to the woman.
On Nov. 4, remember that your vote will matter for more than just the economy an the war on terror. You will be helping to set policy for the generation to come.