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  Justice Stevens, at 86, joins jurist-to-watch list
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ContributorJ.R. 
Last EditedJ.R.  Apr 15, 2006 12:27pm
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News DateFriday, April 14, 2006 06:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionWASHINGTON -- As Justice John Paul Stevens turns 86 this week (Thursday, April 20), he is the latest jurist-to-watch in what has become, during President Bush's second term, a vulturine pastime for ideological activists: predicting the next vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Think the battle for control of the nation's highest court ended with the recent confirmations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito? Think again.

Those confirmations likely helped conservatives solidify their representation. But it is the next vacancy that gives them the opportunity to finally take a 5-4 majority on the court and put landmark abortion rights case Roe v Wade, as well as other rulings on religion, sexuality and free speech, in play. That opportunity hinges on the next vacancy coming from within a group of five justices who range from socially liberal to moderately conservative, before Bush leaves office in 2008 and while Republicans are in control of the Senate.

Marion Edwyn Harrison, a longtime Washington-area lawyer and president of the conservative Free Congress Foundation, has known Stevens through their mutual membership in a country club and doesn't see the associate justice slowing down.

If President Bush and the Republican-led Senate could get a more conservative nominee confirmed in Stevens' place, Harrison chuckled, "I might like the results better." But Harrison said that's a big "if," given the president's low ratings with voters now and the shakiness of some Republican seats in the Senate in this election year.
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