"Like hostile nations on the edge of apocalypse, Washington's political right and left are on code red over a Supreme Court vacancy that does not yet exist.
"Conservative groups held a briefing last week at the National Press Club and promised to spend more than $20 million promoting whomever President Bush nominates to replace Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, should the ailing chief justice retire at the end of the court's term in June, as many expect. The liberal group People for the American Way countered with the threat of its 45-computer war room on M Street and a coalition of 70 other groups to fight back".
"In the meantime, Republicans close to the preparations say that the White House has assembled research on some 20 Supreme Court candidates, with more intensive research on a handful of the most mentioned, all federal appellate judges and all conservative: J. Michael Luttig and J. Harvie Wilkinson III of Virginia, Michael W. McConnell of Colorado, John G. Roberts Jr. of the District of Columbia, Samuel A. Alito Jr. of New Jersey and Emilio M. Garza of Texas.The White House also plans mock hearings in which the nominee will field aggressive questions from a "murder board", or a phalanx of lawyers and administration officials playing senators on the Judiciary Committee".
There’s more: New York Times link