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The Boston Globe

Politics

Election’s winner may shape Supreme Court

Vacancies likely within next 4 years

Deeply divided, held in low esteem by the public, and battered by harsh criticism from both left and right, the US Supreme Court returns to work on Monday amid speculation that its makeup and ideological balance could change, perhaps significantly, depending on who is elected president in November.

The nine justices have an average age of 67. Several have battled health problems, and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg will pass their 80th birthdays in the next four years. Though court-watchers tend to tiptoe around discussions of the longevity of justices, who have lifetime appointments, they say it would be no surprise if more than one were to retire in the next four years.

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