Next president could pick Supreme Court justices

Posted at 9:31 PM, Feb 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-10 21:31:34-05

There are nine Supreme Court justices. But there's a chance three or even four of them could retire during this next presidency.

And the next president, whomever that may be, will pick the replacements.

It's a rare opportunity. The last time a president confirmed more than two justices was during Ronald Reagan's presidency.

Justices serve a life term, and that's typically a long time. On average, terms last a few decades. The current longest-serving Supreme Court judge is Justice Antonin Scalia at almost 30 years.

While technically nonpartisan, the ideology of any particular justice typically leans toward that of the president who nominated them. That's why, when a nomination comes up, it matters who's president. (Video via the White House

How the justices lean is important. If there were, say, one more right-leaning justice at the time, the federal ban on gay marriage might still be around.

And because of how long a justice can serve, they make decisions that affect the nation well beyond the term of the president who appointed them.

This video includes images from Getty Images.