The importance of the Supreme Court as an election issue – which was clearly predicted by pre-election polls – made itself clear in President Obama's overwhelming victory last night. Americans recognized that Mitt Romney would have driven the Court even further to the right, and they cast their votes accordingly.
Last month, People For the American Way, the Alliance For Justice Action Campaign, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights released a poll demonstrating that the Supreme Court was not only an important issue for voters, it was one that significantly favored President Obama over Mitt Romney.
A remarkable 63 percent of voters said the issue of who will serve on the Supreme Court was an important consideration in their vote for president. By a five-point margin, voters said they trusted President Obama over Mitt Romney to nominate Supreme Court justices. President Obama had an 18-point advantage among swing voters overall and a 26-point advantage women swing voters.
The survey also explained why: What most concerned voters – a full 54 percent – was that Romney would nominate justices who would consistently favor corporations over ordinary Americans. After all, Romney very openly said that he would nominate Justices like John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito – the solid backbone of the current Corporate Court. And every corporate-funded hit job TV viewers were assaulted with just served as reminder of their handiwork and what more Justices like them would do to our country.
So it was no surprise that President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and Senators-elect Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), Chris Murphy (Connecticut), and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) reminded voters of the importance of the Court during the campaign.
Conservatives will try to say the election tells us nothing about the Court. Like Karl Rove on Fox News when the election was called, they will try to wish the hard numbers away, but they can't. Yesterday, the American people repudiated the conservative vision of the Supreme Court, giving President Obama a clear mandate to nominate strong progressives to restore the nation's highest court as a place where Americans can be confident in Equal Justice Under the Law.