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Potential jurors make up the same polling pool as potential voters — those over the age of 18. So, not surprisingly, some of the views that potential jurors expressed in the 2000 Juror Outlook Survey have relevance for Campaign 2000. Forty-one percent of the 1,000 people polled say the appointment of new justices to the Supreme Court will be an extremely or very important factor when they vote for president. Vice President Al Gore has made the issue a talking point of his campaign, warning that Texas Governor George W. Bush’s stated desire for “strict constructionists” would spell the demise of Roe v. Wade. The oldest members of the current high court are Justice John Paul Stevens, 80, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, 75, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, 70, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 67. There has not been a new appointment to the court in six years, since President Bill Clinton appointed Justice Stephen Breyer. It is the second-longest interval in the nation’s history, says Ralph G. Neas, president of the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way. “Since Roosevelt, there’s been a nomination on average once every two years,” Neas says. “More than 100 Supreme Court precedents could be overturned” if a conservative majority led by justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dominated the high court, he claims, adding that, as a result, “this is the most important election [in 60 years].” But the poll also shows that concern over high court appointments crosses party lines, with Bush and Gore voters almost even in their concern. While liberals warn that any future Bush nominees would turn back the clock on gay rights, environmental protections, gun control and a host of other issues, Bush spokesman Ken Lisaius counters that Bush “has a strong record of appointing judges from all walks of life.” Matthew Felling, of the nonpartisan Center for Media & Public Affairs, attributes the issue’s potency to the tightness of the political race. But Todd Graziano, a senior fellow in legal studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation, says the issue itself has been fabricated by the left. “Both sides have traditionally used this to rally their base,” says Graziano, a former Justice Department lawyer. “What’s different here is that Gore is doing so in a particularly dishonest way, and Bush is largely silent on the issue.” Graziano says that, despite the rumors, no high court justice has indicated a desire to step down, and even if one had, the likelihood that enough justices would retire in the next four years to clearly alter the court’s thinking in any single area of law is slim. “The last time the right to abortion was at stake rather than a particular procedure, the vote was 6-3 in favor of affirming Roe,” he says. “For there to be a change, there would have to be two vacancies among those who voted to uphold Roe, and that is highly unlikely.” CRIME AND CONTRIBUTIONS The survey also shows that voters have responded to the prolonged drop in crime, with a majority of those polled saying that the candidates’ positions on crime and punishment will be only somewhat important or not a factor at all when they enter the voting booth. Almost 61 percent of those polled said that crime would not be a very important factor when they vote, including nearly 60 percent of likely Gore voters and 57 percent of likely Bush voters. Party differences, however, were plainly evident on the issue of campaign finance. Although a plurality of 40 percent polled agreed that campaign contributions from trial attorneys have influenced the political process for the worse, only 32 percent of prospective Gore voters agreed with this sentiment. Meanwhile, 46 percent of probable Bush voters, perhaps aware of trial litigators’ traditional affinity for the Democratic Party, said their contributions have a negative effect on the system. Similarly, 47 percent of respondents who identified themselves as probable supporters of other presidential candidates, such as Green Party nominee Ralph Nader and Reform Party nominee Patrick J. Buchanan, criticized trial attorney contributions, as did almost 42 percent of undecided voters.

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