ALBANY, N.Y. -- When Albany Law student Chris Connors dreamed up a college public forum on the Supreme Court, he never dreamed the third presidential debate would provide perfect context.
"I think it's extremely important," Connors said. "It's something that affects everyday life and I wish they would have continued on and developed it a little bit more."
However, Connors gladly took up the reins with his Thursday night Albany Law panel, which explored how the candidates would impact the high court, and the nation's future.
"This should be the landmark issue of the election," said Stephen Clark, Albany Law School professor.
Clark, the panel moderator Thursday, says with the current eight-member court, a new president could nominate the justice who decides key issues.
"They are deadlocked at four-four on the scope of the Second Amendment," Clark said. "The addition of a fifth justice to either the conservative or the liberal block, could have really significant impact."
"Oh, this is an interesting cycle," said Dr. James Acker of the UAlbany School of Criminal Justice.
Dr. Acker says the Supreme Court effects could reach much further into the lives of Americans, like what the law allows in searches, prosecutions and punishment.
"The death penalty is one area," Dr. Acker said. "Also issues of race, and racial justice, are going to get attention in the courts."
These are precarious times for the Supreme Court. One seat waiting to be filled by our next president and more seats likely to open during the next eight years.
"And that's gonna be huge, in the next couple months specifically, but then, for the rest of our lives," Connors said.
Another issue taken up by Thursday's panel: The lower federal courts. Important to remember when voters go out on Election Day, that presidents nominate our U.S. Attorneys and federal district judges, too -- positions with more immediate impact on our local safety and security.