Often a nonissue in presidential campaigns, the U.S. Supreme Court has emerged as a political flashpoint, with candidates from both parties attacking justices and pledging to use “litmus tests” to ensure ideological discipline in their future nominees.

The marathon Republican presidential debates on Sept. 16 put into sharper focus the anger among candidates about the composition of the court — especially Chief Justice John Roberts — and for rulings on the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage deemed to be too liberal.

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