On July 1 Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced that she would retire from the Supreme Court in order to spend more time with her husband. This comes at a time when the retirement of Chief Justice William Rehnquist was expected but has not been announced.
Justice O'Conner's retirement will have a greater impact on the court that a Rehnquist retirement. Rehnquist is one of the most conservative justices; O'Conner is more moderate. President Bush has indicated that his judicial appointments will be very conservative, referring to Justices Scalia and Thomas as models. A replacement of O'Conner with a conservative of the Scalia or Thomas mold will definitely swing the court to the right.
Many conservatives look to the OConner retirement as a chance to make a change in the court. After the retirement was announced, James Dobson, of the far-right group Focus on the Family Action, commented that "President Bush must nominate someone whose judicial philosophy is crystal clear. And no one has been clearer about this than the President himself, who said during his campaign that he would appoint justices in the mold of Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia. We have full confidence that he will carry out that pledge."
Further information, speculation, and discussion can be found on the blogs SCOTUSblog and its companion The Supreme Court Nomination Blog.