All but forgotten this election season is President Barack Obama’s stalled nomination of Garland to the Supreme Court, which began its 2016 term earlier this month with only eight justices and its first vacancy in six years. The subject only made it into the penultimate question in the presidential town hall on Tuesday night—an afterthought in an election that has largely been a referendum on political personalities.
Far more than simply harming down-ballot Republicans, the implosion of Trump’s campaign may destroy the party’s hope of reshaping the nation’s highest court while it is fiercely divided on key voter issues, including abortion, campaign finance, and gun rights. Republican leaders refused to hold hearings on Garland’s nomination back in May until after the election, hoping a win in November would allow them to appoint a more conservative judge to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
But with Hillary Clinton ahead at least five points in recent polls, they may be more amenable to confirming Judge Garland in case she decides to nominate a more liberal candidate under pressure from the left.