Scott Lemieux in The New Republic:
The next president will enter office with a potentially pivotal Supreme Court seat vacant. It’s an issue that may pale next to such world-historically important questions as Hillary Clinton’s email management, but it’s still very important. If Clinton captures the White House but Republicans retain the Senate, it is extremely likely that the Supreme Court blockade the GOP started in March will persist for four more years. Just as congressional Republicans have reconciled themselves to Donald Trump, they have already convinced themselves that the only principled course is to deny Clinton the ability to nominate anybody to the Supreme Court. The result would be the hobbling of an entire branch of government, which is just one example of how the chaos of Trumpism will live on even if he loses the election on November 8.
There are scenarios in which we could see the confirmation of a ninth justice to fill the seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia’s death. If Trump pulls off an upset victory, it would almost certainly come with a Republican Senate. This would lead to generic Republican nominees being confirmed to the federal courts. Some conservatives have been skeptical that Trump would reliably nominate conservative judges because of his less-than-robust commitment, historically speaking, to social conservatism. But such doubts are almost certainly misplaced. Even if Trump secretly wanted to appoint moderate judges, it’s not clear where he would find them (David Souter, one of the last of his kind, is not going to come out of retirement). And as George W. Bush’s failed nomination of Harriet Miers showed, Senate Republicans would reject any Supreme Court or crucial circuit court nominee who doesn’t have a demonstrable record of conservatism.