On Friday, newsrooms nationwide were abuzz with rumors that Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist was set to announce his resignation, only one week after his colleague Sandra Day O’Connor had given President Bush his first Supreme Court vacancy. Rehnquist hasn’t done it yet but is still widely expected to do so, maybe as early as tomorrow.

O’Connor’s resignation alone has already ignited an epic struggle over the direction of the Court with the future of legal abortions, affirmative action for minority groups, government aid to religious schools and other issues that have long divided US society potentially at stake.

In anticipation of Bush meeting with Senate leaders to discuss potential new nominees, IndependentCourt.org, a project of the Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary, drafted an open letter signed by more than 75 national organizations, stressing the importance of meaningful consultation with both parties as well as the critical–and legitimate–role the Senate should play in the confirmation process. Click here to read the full text of the letter and, if you agree with it, click here to add your name to the list of signatories.

Two groups–the Alliance for Justice and People for the American Way–are out in front in organizing opposition to any picks who might hew to the same far-right ideological cloth as Bush appellate court selections like William Pickering, Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers (to name just a few). So check out their websites to keep up on the liberal community’s response to whoever Bush nominates.

The Daily Kos, one of the world’s preeminent liberal bloggers, also posted recently a very useful checklist of things you can do today to help in the first Supreme Court nomination battle in more than a decade.