Not only has the Supreme Court thoroughly abandoned a decades-old tradition of upholding the liberal gains of the 1950s and 1960s, it has become the premier bulwark of conservatism now that Democrats have retaken Congress and the White House is weakened to the point of impotency.
The political brawl over the replacement for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who announced her resignation last week, could be the most bitter since Justice Clarence Thomas' 1991 confirmation battle.
And that free-for-all, which liberals and conservatives alike predict could be the "mother of all battles," could leave many Jewish groups in an awkward position.
The tenor of the debate was evident within hours of O'Connor's surprise announcement. Christian conservatives, calling in their chits from last year's presidential election, demanded that President Bush fulfill his promise to nominate judges like his favorites, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas. Just as sternly, groups associated with women's rights, civil rights and the separation of church and state warned of pitched battles ahead if the president doesn't make a "mainstream" choice.
Advocacy groups immediately hit the airwaves to sway public opinion. The nomination fight will almost certainly be the most expensive ever.