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Trump's victory ensures a conservative majority on the Supreme Court

• http://www.latimes.com, David G. Savage

And with Republicans maintaining control of the Senate, Trump will have a free hand in selecting someone with strong conservative credentials, confident his nominee will be confirmed.

The election dashes the hopes of liberals, who lost their best opportunity in more than 40 years to create a majority on the high court.

It also provided a validation of sorts for the obstruction strategy of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans, who refused for nearly nine months to consider President Obama's nominee to fill Scalia's seat, Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The future of the Supreme Court's ideological balance proved to be a critical factor for many Republican voters. In exit polls, about 1 in 5 voters said the Supreme Court appointments were "the most important factor" in their decision, and those voters favored Trump by a 57% to 40% margin, according to ABC News.

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