On Monday, the Supreme Court meets for the last time before its summer break. Several high-profile cases will be decided, but the real nail-biting anticipation is reserved for the possible retirement of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, which would create the first vacancy on the court in 11 years. (Bill Kristol has speculated that it might be O’Connor, not Rehnquist, who retires next week, but popular conservative blog Redstate says nope, it’s Rehnquist. These things are hard to predict.)

Thus far the White House has been mum about possible replacements, but names are a’floatin’. There’s a great analysis of some possible candidates in this TNR piece.

Scuttlebutt in the progressive blogosphere has it that Bush will nominate the most outrageous far-right candidate possible, just to pick a fight and fire up his base. That is, after all, what he does. The conservative blogosphere relishes such a fight.

Everything I’ve seen inclines me to believe it’s going to get ugly. Stay tuned.

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