WASHINGTON – The fact than none of the Supreme Court justices tendered their resignations Monday does not mean that no one will. At least two justices, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist (search) and Sandra Day O'Connor (search), are widely thought to be considering retirement.
With that expectation in mind, the armies are massing for battle on the Potomac. Activists on both sides are gearing up for a fight.
"There will be two or three or four vacancies and that just underscores what's at stake for all sides. The law of the land for the next 30 years, maybe 40 years will be decided over the next three or four years," said Ralph Neas, president and CEO of People for the American Way.
The current group of nine justices has served together for 11 years, the longest period without vacancies since 1823. Neas and his group have been studying potential nominees for the last four and half years, since President Bush was first elected.
And his war room is ready the moment Bush nominates a new justice.
"We have 450,000 e-mail activists now. We have gone from 300,000 members and supporters to 750,000 supporters. We can get communications into the Senate in a matter of seconds," Neas said.
The group's supporters sent 2 million e-mails to the Senate during the confirmation battles over appeals court judges. In 1987, Neas and other groups helped defeat the nomination of Robert Bork to the high court, a battle that taught conservatives a painful lesson. They weren't ready for that fight. This time they are.
"What we saw, and we've taken an extensive look at it in the past Supreme Court fights, is that the liberal left will go out and tar and feather whoever the nominee is and we need to be very prepared for that," said Ben Ginsberg of Progress for America.
Now that a battle looms, recruits across the nation are waiting to be pressed into service on behalf of the president's choice.
"There are on the ground operatives in 22 states as of now, ready to spring into action to be able to make sure there is a full and complete picture of a potential nominee," Ginsberg said.
Bush's supporters are also prepared to spend some $18 million dollars and are already running an ad criticizing attacks on other conservative nominees.
A dozen or more people have been mentioned as potential replacements for Rehnquist or anyone else who might retire. But activists on the other side have yet to see one they won't try to block.
"The names that we've heard so far, and I don't know that it's the whole list, seem extremely problematic to us," said Nan Aron of Alliance for Justice.
That's why the president's supporters are steeling themselves for a fierce nomination fight. And they say they'll need every penny they can raise to hold off the opponents.
"They have more than we have and they have access to more than we have access to. They have almost a blank check out of Hollywood," said C. Boyden Gray, former White House counsel for George H.W. Bush.
Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Jim Angle.