Activists are lining up for a long, drawn-out battle over the next Supreme Court Justice -- even though there are no openings on the Court right now.
There's a good chance that Chief Justice William Rehnquist will retire -- possibly before the month's out. Senate staffers have been told to delay vacations. And politicians on both sides are looking at getting their positions set in stone within 24 hours of a justice announcing retirement.
Conservatives are relying on relatively new groups -- set up specifically to deal with a Supreme Court fight:
- Committee for Justice -- providing conservative legal experts lined up to provide first day commentary on the talking head shows, radio, and newspapers
- Progress for America -- a conservative group with $18 million to spend on a Supreme Court campaign
- The Judicial Confirmation Network -- a conservative group with $3 million raised in just six-months
Liberals will rely on long established groups with past experience in nomination battles:
- People for the American Way -- Has a "War Room" already set up to fire off liberal viewpoints down 75-phone lines and from 40 computers
- The Alliance for Justice -- a group dating back to 1979 that's taken up liberal causes in the judicial arena
- Leadership Conference on Civil Rights -- a liberal group that spearheaded Robert Bork's defeat in the 1980s. It will bring it's expertise in that fight and the battle over Clarence Thomas' nomination to bear
Supreme Court Justices historically announce their retirements at the close of a judicial session. The current session ends on June 30th. (LATimes)