The eve of the hotly contested 2012 presidential election is almost upon us, and it looks like a dead heat. There are many issues at stake this election cycle, but one of the most important is how the election will affect our next president's Supreme Court appointments. Though appointed for life, Justices Breyer, Kennedy and Scalia are well into their seventies, and Justice Ginsberg will turn 80 in March 2013. It is conceivable that America's next president could appoint replacements for one or more of these aging jurists, and the ramifications of those appointments could vastly change the direction of our country. When deciding which lever to pull inside the voting booth next month, many Americans fail to consider the far-reaching consequences of their vote. With our country so polarized into red vs. blue states, some voters have thrown up their hands in abject disgust at the logjam evident in our most recent Congress and are choosing not to vote at all this cycle. But that would be very unwise.The Supreme Court narrowly upheld the Health Care Reform Act, but a Romney presidency could see this act overturned and surely gutted. The appointment of a single conservative justice could reverse the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision and severely restrict women's childbearing options by making abortions once again illegal. Romney's desire to conform to extreme right-wing agendas will insure that hot button issues such as affirmative action and the right of gay citizens to marry and serve in the military would surely be on the chopping block under a Republican presidency, and with another conservative appointment, any significant gains in these arenas would likely be annulled. Should President Obama win re-election, the disturbing trend of politicians making a sharp right to pander to the very vocal Tea Party contingent could be held in check for another four years. President Obama has in the past shown himself to be a champion of the rights of minorities and is likely to continue to pursue a progressive agenda with liberal Supreme Court appointments that more closely mirror the views held by most citizens.
Americans who believe that all citizens should have the right to marry the partner of their choice, who do not feel that sexual orientation should be a barrier to military service and that women's reproductive options should not be legislated have a duty and obligation to make sure their vote reflects these beliefs. This is not a time for complacency; whoever is elected this November holds the keys to every American's freedom and civil liberty. Our incoming president's Supreme Court appointments can change the tenor of our country by continuing to promote a progressive platform more in line with mainstream America's views, or turn back the gains and progress of the last four or five decades and thrust us back into times of prejudice and struggles for civil rights. Make your vote your voice and let it be heard loud and clear--liberty and justice for all and not just some.