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Trump Supreme Court pick: Why is the US top court so important?

Trump Supreme Court pick: Why is the US top court so important?
20 September 2018 - 5:58 'was also added 757 Viewed.
Nine Supreme Court Justices Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The nine justices before Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement

The US is currently undergoing the process to appoint a replacement to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement earlier this year. So why is this a big deal?

Given the immense impact the US Supreme Court has on US political life, nominees always face tough questions from the Senate during any confirmation hearing.

President Donald Trump’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is no exception.

So how might his pick change the nation’s high court?

Who are the current justices? Meet the Supremes

What does the Supreme Court do?

The highest court in the US is often the final word on highly contentious laws, disputes between states and the federal government, and final appeals to stay executions.

Does the court matter globally?

US research suggests that the influence of the Supreme Court abroad has diminished over the past two decades, as court systems elsewhere in the world develop and US influence in general wanes.

Fewer courts internationally cite US Supreme Court opinions, increasingly citing the European Court of Human Rights and other national supreme courts.

In 2016 a Supreme Court decision on emissions from coal-fired power plants on US soil threatened the Paris Climate Agreement, but enough other countries ratified the treaty for it to come into force.

Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, which affects Middle East countries designated as terror-prone, was cemented this week by the Supreme Court, with the outcome affecting millions internationally.

And back in 2000, the Supreme Court decided the outcome of the presidential election between George W Bush and Al Gore – a decision which more recent history shows still has a significant impact around the world.

The court could in theory be asked to rule on legal challenges to international trade agreements, such as the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, although TPP was revoked by Mr Trump using an executive order.

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