The Stakes Have Risen
Frankly, I don't think it's anything to be too worried about, unless you live in dire fear of President Kerry appointing a left leaning judge. (Which I obviously don't, frankly as long as a judge interprets to allow more individual freedom, and less government oversight, they're usually OK by me.) A right leaning judge, will only preserve the status quo, and really it's not as bad as people think it is. (I thought the court ruled correctly in the 2000 election dispute and the Texas Sodomy Law. I'm pretty sure we won't see a Dredd Scott like decision again in my lifetime.) Especially, as Sandra Day O'Connor tends to be the swing voter. Though it'd be interesting to see who the new Chief Justice will be. I think O'Connor, Antonin Scalia and David Souter are the most senior members of the Court after Rehnquist, so it could be either one of them.
*Definitions for your edification.
Strict Constructionist: A Judge who will interpret the Constitution to mean all the rights plainly stated in the Constitution, no more, no less. A strict constructionist would have voted against Miranda and against Roe, since the Founding Father's didn't foresee the need to address the rights of suspected criminals at the time of their arrest or fetuses/pregnant mothers.
Litmust Test: Code for how a judge would have voted on Roe vs. Wade. Which we all know is the defining standard for how a judge will decide any future cases. < rolls eyes >
Activist Judge: Usually used as an epithet to condemn judges who voted against your position. For example, in 2000, Liberals cried "Activist Judges" when the court voted to stopped the Florida recount. And Conservatives have been crying "Activst Judges" when the Supreme Court declared that Texas' gay only sodomy law was unconstitutional and the Massachusett's court voted that barring gays and lesbians from marrying was unconstiutional, according to their state constitution.