Democratic leaders expect the issue to be a key factor during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of federal Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. as privacy rights -- the political code phrase for abortion rights -- has already become a major issue, The Washington Times said.
Democratic leaders then plan to keep the issue alive as they continue their opposition to key parts of the USA Patriot Act, which are set to expire in early February unless extended, the newspaper said
The real payoff, Democrats believe, will be hearings on the Bush administration's authorization of eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without a warrant, the Times said.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Penn., said he wants to hold hearings on the matter.
Democratic aides told the Times privately they aim to win control over the House or Senate in the November elections, and they think the privacy issue will resonate with voters.