Among the starkest contrasts between John McCain and Barack Obama is the dramatic difference in their promised approaches to judicial appointments, especially to the closely divided Supreme Court.
McCain, eager to establish credibility with conservatives, has bashed liberal "activist judges" who intrude into "policy questions that should be decided democratically,"and essentially vowed to move the Court sharply to the right in judicial philosophy.
The presumptive Republican nominee has identified Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito as models.
Obama, who voted against both men during their Senate confirmation hearings, has said that they and the Court too often side with "the powerful against the powerless" and lack "empathy" for ordinary people. The presumptive Democratic nominee exudes determination to move the Court sharply to the left if he gets the chance.
At a time when the Court is precariously balanced–with four conservatives, four liberals (including the two oldest justices), and the ideologically eclectic Anthony Kennedy–these contrasting approaches have provided opposing activists with nightmare visions to rally the Democratic and Republican bases during the presidential race.