Starr in the Supreme Court

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WASHINGTON: So Ken Starr has done an end-run round any appeal from President Clinton against Judge Norma Holloway Johnson's decision on executive privilege -- by taking the entire issue to the Supreme Court. What is it the prosecutor knows about conversations between President Clinton and the two privilege-claiming advisers, Sidney Blumenthal and Bruce Lindsey, that makes them worth such high-stakes litigation?

According to TIME Washington correspondent Jay Branegan, that's the $64,000 question -- and the answer may be that Starr is gathering evidence for two separate obstruction charges. In Blumenthal's case, it's related to conversations with reporters in which he supposedly spread unflattering facts about Starr's team. From Lindsey, Starr is looking for a far wider conspiracy to obstruct his investigation. "Lindsey," says Branegan, "did have the reputation as Clinton's right-hand man, the one who took care of 'bimbo control' early on."

Conspiracies notwithstanding, there's doubt over whether the Supreme Court will have time for Starr's case before the fall. "There's only three weeks left in their term," notes Branegan, "so I'd be surprised if they heard it." For all sides in the sprawling Lewinsky case, it's going to be a long summer.