But not everyone is worried.
"Of course I'd like to see a ninth justice confirmed in due time," said Professor Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz of Georgetown University's law school.
"I think the Court will survive this moment," Rosenkranz said at a recent preview of the new term held by the Federalist Society in Washington, D.C.
"The conventional wisdom is that the Court is attempting to take cases that aren't hitting as many of the hot button issues, certainly unlike the last couple of terms," said Carrie Severino, a conservative legal expert.
Severino says she expects more efforts by the Court to find common ground as long as there are only eight justices - something she hopes can be remedied soon.
"It's been such a depressing year in general at the Court," Severino said at the same Federalist Society preview.
As for big cases, the Justices will again look at the death penalty, electoral redistricting and more - when a ninth Justice will arrive, that's still anyone's guess.
"My personal guess is that you will see in the end, if Hillary Clinton wins the election, a pivot," by the Republicans, said Goldstein, who thinks a Donald Trump loss would probably result in swift approval of Merrick Garland, the judge nominated by President Obama to replace Scalia.
But for now, the Supreme Court starts this term with eight justices, and one empty chair at the bench, on this first Monday in October.