WASHINGTON The next president will tip the courts, one way or another. Supreme Court openings are all but guaranteed, and that's just the start: 44 trial and appellate federal judicial vacancies already await filling. There will be more.
Consider this: President Bush has placed 316 judges on the bench during his two terms. One out of three federal judges now owes a lifetime-tenured job to the current president. Whoever replaces Bush will be likewise recasting courthouses, top to bottom.
"The proper role of the judiciary has become one of the defining issues of this presidential election," Republican presidential candidate John McCain said in May. "It will fall to the next president to nominate hundreds hundreds of qualified men and women to the federal courts, and the choices we make will reach far, far into the future."
In truth, many polls suggest, relatively few voters consider the federal judiciary a defining issue. But those who do care, care a lot.......
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