Remember The Supreme Court? You're One in a Million

With all the talk of Trump's "Yuge!" leads in the polls, the Democrats feeling the Bern, Hillary's emails, and the incredible, shrinking Jeb Bush, we're overlooking one of the most vital aspects of the 2016 Presidential elections.

It's the question of what will happen to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Four Justices are over the age of 70.

Stephen Breyer is 74.

Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia are 76.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pancreatic cancer survivor, is 79.

Whoever wins the election, and thus sets him or herself up for a two-term presidency, will likely replace all four.

Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the UC Irvine Law School and an expert on the Court, points out that this may be the single most important thing the next President does.

Justices live--and serve--longer than ever, and are elevated to the Court younger than ever, he points out.

Justice Clarence Thomas has just started his 25th year on the Court, and he's a mere 68 years old.

Whoever nominates the next four Justices will essentially set in stone the social, political, religious, and economic direction of this country for decades.

The most important issues of our times are typically in the hands of these nine individuals.

Abortion. Affirmation action. Education. Healthcare. Free speech. Gun control. Business. Political campaigns. Broadcasting. Capital punishment.

All are up to the nine people on the Court.

Even the occupant of the White House can be determined by the Justices.

Bush v. Gore was a 5-4 vote.

It didn't matter that Al Gore got more popular votes than George W. Bush.

Bush got one more vote on the Supreme Court, and that made him President.

If it had gone 5-4 the other way, and they'd given it to Gore, would we have had an Iraq war?

An economic meltdown?

A President Obama?

We'll never know.

So with all the talk about Trump's Moslem fixation, or Hillary's server, or whether Bernie's a socialist or a communist, we aren't thinking about what will matter not for months or years but for generations.

Dean Chemerinsky recently wrote a book, The Case Against The Supreme Court, in which he argues that the Court, throughout its history has gotten important decisions wrong, or get the right decision but still do things the wrong way.

Or they favor big business over the middle class, the middle class over the poor, and conservative interests over progressive views.

So the scary thing is that whichever party wins essentially gets to dictate the composition of the entity that, rightly or wrongly, and more often wrongly, really govern the nation.

Presidents have severe limits on their authority. There's only so much tinkering with the economy, or the tax system, or education, or race relations, or any other topic the candidates may be fulminating about on the campaign trail.

The Supreme Court, unique in our governmental system, has practically no limits.

It chooses which cases it will hear, what issues it will decide, the bases for making its decisions, and all of that without any process of appeal (unless a new law is passed).

As Roseann Roseannadana said on Saturday Night Live so many years ago, when explaining the Supreme Court, "Whatever they don't like is unconstitutional."

So as you start thinking about whom you'd seat in the Oval Office, remember that his or her achievements will be long forgotten while the people they elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court will still be on the bench, making decisions that will directly affect the lives of our children and grandchildren.

In an election that's already caught the eye of most Americans, that may be the most "Yuge!" issue of all.