Does the Supreme Court matter for the 2012 election? It certainly should.

A President’s ability to appoint Supreme Court justices is a lasting legacy that can shape the course of our country for years in the future. The Supreme Court may appear to be a group of robed academics, but the justices tackle issues that impact the everyday lives of citizens, including whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own firearms, Miranda and other safeguards afforded to criminal defendants, what role race may play in college admissions, and whether Congress can force Americans to engage in commerce.

The next President may have the opportunity to appoint three justices—and possibly more. And the addition of even one new justice can shift the direction of the Court for decades. Five justices have been on the Court for nearly 20 years. Over the past 50 years, the average length of service is around 19 years.

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