>> The Supreme Court opening its new term Monday in treacherous waters, still one Justice short of a full bench, and with its future riding squarely on the outcome of the 2016 presidential race. Laurence Hurley is at the court.>> The Supreme Court returns to the bench in a somewhat unprecedented situation, at least in recent years, of only having eight justices on the bench.
Usually there's nine. This is because of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February.>> President Obama tried to replace Scalia with moderate appeals court judge Merrick Garland, but hit a wall with Republicans in the Senate, who said that the next president should make that pick.>> Most of the focus will not be on the court itself, but on the election and who wins in November.
This next president will get to pick a pivotal justice on the court and if, particularly if Hillary Clinton wins, it could be a it could be a sea change because the courts has been tilting conservative for decades.>> Hurley says Scalia is unlikely to be the only one filled by Obama successor.
>> You know, there are three other justices on the courts who are seventy eight or older. And so whoever the next president is could well get to nominate at least two, maybe three, more justices, in addition to the current vacancy, meaning they could have a massive legacy in deciding for decades potentially whether the court is going to be conservative or liberal leaning.
>> The court's current four to four liberal-conservative deadlock helps explain a glaring lack of blockbuster cases in the coming term.>> There's already some evidence that the court is actually looking to avoid cases where it could split four to four on, because it knows that it can't decide those and also the justices don't know when exactly the new justice will get appointed.
So far they've been quite cautious. They are taking up cases that are more narrow. Nothing of the size or potential devisiveness of some of the cases we've had in recent years on abortion and gay rights.>> One possible exception, the court could decide take up an explosive case on transgender bathrooms in schools.
But both that and another potential landmark case on voting rights expected to await the seating of a ninth judge. The court kicking off it's new term with Chief Justice John Roberts presiding at 10:00 Eastern time.