Justice Confirmation Battle Brewing

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Washington is gearing up for a confirmation fight over President Obama's choice to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

The leaders of both parties started laying the groundwork for a battle on the Sunday talk shows.

Republicans are clearly fearing the nightmare scenario in the president's pick to replace Justice Souter, with Senator Orin Hatch telling ABC's "This Week" he fully expects the president to pick a very leftwing, activist justice.

"If he's saying that he wants to pick people who will take sides -- he's also said that a judge has to be a person of empathy," Hatch said.  "What does that mean?"Usually that's a code word for an activist judge.  But he also said that he's going to select judges on the basis of their personal politics, their personal feelings, their personal preferences. Now, you know, those are all code words for an activist judge, who is going to,
you know, be partisan on the bench.

But Judiciary Chairman Democrat Patrick Leahy told ABC he would like to see more people "from outside the judicial monastery" - that's code for someone who is not already a judge.

"Well, I've known President Obama long enough he doesn't need to use code words," Leahy said.  "He speaks very plainly and very directly. I have a pretty good sense of what he has in mind for a justice."

Some have suggested the president may actually select a so-called moderate coalition builder. But even that won't make this confirmation battle any less intense.

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