John McCain's and Barack Obama's Supreme Court Beliefs Take Center Stage

President Bush and a leading conservative group are highlighting the likelihood of court openings.

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As if the war, the economy, and Sarah Palin's newspaper reading list weren't enough to swamp voters, now how the candidates will handle a potential four U.S. Supreme Court openings in the next four years is moving to the front burner. That's right, court watchers say that Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. John McCain might get four bites at the apple during the next presidency, meaning that either could establish his point of view on the court for decades. Consider: John Paul Stevens is 88; Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 75; Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia are 72; Steven Breyer is 70; and David Souter is 69. Come Monday, President Bush plans to push the issue. We don't know what he will say, but he plans to travel to Ohio, a key battleground state, to deliver a speech on the court, which returns that day for its fall session. And a prominent conservative judicial watch group, the Judicial Confirmation Network, this week is kicking in $1 million—and likely more—to raise questions about the kind of judges Obama would pick. The group plans to air a TV ad on Fox and in many Ohio and Michigan markets to warn that Obama will tilt the court left. Wendy Long, the group's chief council, told us that conservatives worry Obama will pick "more liberal and judicial activists who treat the court as a policy-making body." Citing a McCain speech about the court, she said that he is more likely to pick strict constitutionalists, like Bush has. Of course, that's a red flag for liberals who want the court to be a little more flexible when addressing key issues like abortion.

Just what are the judicial philosophies of the two candidates? McCain has a special page devoted to it here . Obama doesn't have a special site but has talked on the Senate floor about his view.

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