When the dust of November’s midterm election settles and the roster in Congress has changed — perhaps dramatically — President George W. Bush may have a much tougher time filling the bench with the conservative judges that he has pushed in his first six years in office.

Adding to the usual uphill battle a lame-duck president faces in filling judgeships is an increase in conservative animosity directed at sitting judges. The criticism has so politicized relations between Congress and the judicial branch that retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Bush’s own chief justice, John G. Roberts Jr., have warned that judicial independence may be at risk.

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