(CN) – Next Tuesday morning, voting booths across Alabama will open to decide the race between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones for who will become the state’s next U.S. senator, a role in which they will help Congress fill judicial vacancies across the country.
The race has centered on health care, abortion and, most of all, allegations that Roy Moore pursued sexual relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. He is accused of molesting a girl as young as 14, but Moore denies the allegations.
Both Jones and Moore spent formative parts of the career in the Alabama legal system, and those experiences shaped their campaign platforms regarding the judiciary at a time when the U.S. Senate is working to fill a large number of vacancies in the system.
At the end of November, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote on Twitter that, compared to former President Barack Obama’s first year in office, the Republican-led Senate had confirmed three times the number of judicial nominees to federal appeals courts.
Of the 890 federal judge positions in the nation, 144 still sit vacant at the beginning of December, which amounts to 16 percent of the federal judiciary, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
Because of the high number of vacancies, many believe that Trump’s lasting legacy will be the judges he nominates, with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch as one example.
Republicans possess a 52-person majority in the Senate and any change could erode the balance of power.
“I think that if Roy Moore is elected that means there is yet another reliable vote for President Trump’s judicial nominees,” Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, told Courthouse News via email. “This would help to ensure and hasten President Trump’s reshaping of the judiciary.”
According to Moore’s positions listed on his campaign website, one of his platforms is his view of the Constitution. He says his biggest issue is activist judges who don’t follow the Constitution and he would support impeaching those judges.
In its 228-year history, Congress has only brought impeachment proceedings against 15 judges.
"Judge Roy Moore has a long history of combating liberal activist judges who sidestep the legislative process to impose a personal agenda on the American people,” the Moore campaign said in a statement to Courthouse News. “Judge Moore will work with President Trump to confirm conservative judges and make the Constitution – not federal judges – once again the 'supreme law of the land.'"
Moore also takes issue with the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage and abortion. He sees both as unconstitutional rulings.
“I have said very clearly: Roe v. Wade is not established precedent,” Moore said at a rally on Tuesday where he appeared with former White House advisor Steve Bannon. “It’s a violation of the Constitution.”
Just last year, when Moore sat as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, he issued an order to the state’s probate judges on Jan 6, 2016 saying the landmark Supreme Court case legalizing same-sex marriage across the country, Obergefell v. Hodges, did not apply to Alabama.