Souter's retirement will turn Supreme Court to the left

The Supreme Court keeps nine jurists busy (at least for part of the year) deciding the most important legal issues in the land. But of all these issues, there seems to be only one that really matters -- abortion -- which comes in the form of a little court case known as Roe v. Wade. With the June 2009 retirement Justice David H. Souter, the ongoing tug of war over whether to uphold or overturn Roe likely will see a net +1 gain for the uphold team. Depending on how many other justices leave in the next four years, the upholders could finally gain an insurmountable advantage.

The liberal justices -- Breyer (age 71), Ginsburg (76) and whomever Obama appoints to fill Suter's vacancy -- all, of course, want to preserve Roe's case's influence, and the conservative ones -- Alito (58), Roberts (54), Scalia (73), and Thomas (61) -- would probably like to gut it. It's unclear where centrist justice Stevens (89) stands.