Hillary Clinton has started talking to reporters again, but there's still a big question she hasn't answered: Would she renominate Merrick Garland to the open seat on the Supreme Court?

Garland, President Obama's nominee to the high court, has been stymied by Senate Republicans for months. The Democratic presidential candidate has studiously avoided saying whether she would renominate Garland for the vacancy if it is still pending next year.

Clinton's decision would shape both the direction of the court and tone of her presidency. She could stick with Garland, a 63-year-old moderate whose nomination has languished since March. Garland would shift the court to the left but not as far as some liberals would like.

Or she could opt for a younger, more progressive nominee, as well as the bigger confirmation fight that would invite.

Clinton hasn't held a formal news conference since December, helping her duck questions about Garland. With the first of three presidential debates set for Sept. 26 — and with the candidate now taking questions from reporters on her plane — Clinton may find it increasingly hard to remain uncommitted on Garland as Election Day approaches.

When she was asked about the Garland nomination at a Democratic primary debate in April, she refused to address what she called postelection "hypotheticals."

"When I am president, I will take stock of where we are and move from there," she said.

Republican nominee Donald Trump, for his part, has offered a list of 11 conservative judges he would consider nominating for the vacancy, although he wouldn't be bound by the list and has said he might add more names.

The Senate could still confirm Garland in a lame-duck session after the election. So far, Senate Republicans have held firm that the next president should make the pick.

Either way, Clinton or Trump will preside over what could be a historic Supreme Court makeover. The current opening, created by Antonin Scalia's Feb. 13 death, could be the first of several, given that three other justices are 78 or older.

Even by itself, the next appointment could usher in a major shift. By succeeding the conservative icon Scalia, Garland or another Democratic appointee could make the court more receptive to gun restrictions and campaign-finance regulations and more skeptical of curbs on abortion and voting rights. The Supreme Court hasn't had a vacancy on Election Day since 1968.

Clinton has said only that the Senate should consider Obama's nomination of Garland. Elizabeth Wydra, president of the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center, said that stance helps explain why Clinton won't discuss what she would do as president.

"She is being respectful to the constitutional process by expecting the Senate Republicans to do their job and confirm or at least consider President Obama's nominee," Wydra said.

But with the vacancy lingering, Clinton's plans — and her silence about them — are becoming an increasingly important subject as voters prepare to cast their ballots.

"It's not an accident," said Todd Gaziano, who runs the Washington office of the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation. "She's trying to avoid the question obviously because she doesn't want to provide the voters and the public with her position."