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Washington—Conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt offered his thoughts on potential Supreme Court nominees in his online blog. “This is the summer for the knockdown, and that means Judges [J. Michael] Luttig or [Michael] McConnell,” Hewitt wrote, in anticipation of a possible high court vacancy. If it’s McConnell, a Utah federal appeals judge, Hewitt is prepared. On May 12, he registered confirmmcconnell.com. Hewitt said the domain “would make a great blog site to drive traffic to hughhewitt.com.” But Hewitt couldn’t nab every name on his wish list. “I tried to get confirmroberts.com [referring to Judge John Roberts Jr.] and confirmluttig.com,” he said, “but they were already taken.” Those addresses, it turns out, had been scooped up six months earlier by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the liberal advocacy group that played a starring role in derailing Robert Bork’s 1987 bid for a Supreme Court seat. Within two weeks of President George W. Bush’s electoral victory last fall, Brian Komar, then-director of strategic affairs with the Leadership Conference, registered more than 20 Web addresses that included the surnames of potential high court nominees. Among those on Komar’s list: judges Luttig and J. Harvie Wilkinson of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Roberts of the D.C. Circuit; Judge Edith Jones of the 5th Circuit; and Miguel Estrada, a Washington partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher of Los Angeles. Beaten to the punch And the Leadership Conference covered its bets. Not only did it register hostile domains like stoproberts.com and opposeluttig.com, it beat conservative groups to the punch by registering affirmative addresses like supportluttig.com and confirmhinojosa.com. Komar, who’s since left the Leadership Conference to join former Bill Clinton aide John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, said that buying addresses supporting conservative judges is “a strategic decision about messaging and political communication.” The strategy: “Getting your own message out,” Komar said. “[And] preventing your opponent from getting his message out.” Dozens of Supreme Court-related domains have been snapped up by entrepreneurs, political partisans and interest groups in advance of expected battles over nominations to the high court and a potential clash over the elevation of a sitting justice if ailing Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist steps down. It’s been more than a decade since the last high court confrontation-and whoever is tapped by the Bush administration will endure the kind of relentless online scrutiny that no predecessor has faced.

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