The single most important reason why Obama must win:
For much of its term, the Supreme Court muted last year's noisy dissents, warmed to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.'s vision of narrow, incremental decisions and continued a slow but hardly steady move to the right.
But as justices finished their work last week, two overarching truths about the court remained unchanged: It is sharply divided ideologically on some of the most fundamental constitutional questions, and the coming presidential election will determine its future path.
A victory by the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, would probably mean preserving the uneasy but roughly balanced status quo, since the justices who are considered most likely to retire are liberal. A win for his Republican counterpart, John McCain, could mean a fundamental shift to a consistently conservative majority ready to take on past court rulings on abortion rights, affirmative action and other issues important to the right.