President Bush has said that he'd like to have a new justice nominated and approved before the Supreme Court reconvenes in the fall. So expect interest groups from both the left and the right to pull out all the stops during the nomination process. Unlike Chief Justice Rehnquist, a dependable conservative whose resignation has been widely anticipated, O'Connor has been a critical "swing vote" on the bench, making her highly influential and, in many cases, a challenge to an otherwise conservative court.
If any Washington partisans were planning to take a long summer vacation, they are probably now cancelling their plans. This nomination process could prove to be an epic battle that will exacerbate the current culture wars, and the end result will have implications for years to come.
The blog Judging the Future is tracking events at the Supreme Court, largely from a moderate/liberal perspective. They link to a "mass immediate response" tool hosted by People for the American Way, which sends text messages about crucial events to cell phone users. On the right, Tech Central Station is covering events from a conservative perspective.