Bush and Miers


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Thin Black Line
October 5, 2005, 03:38 AM
Who is she? Where does she come from? Who are her people?
These are the things I need to know......


Bush defends choice of Miers for Supreme Court By Steve Holland

Tue Oct 4, 3:54 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Tuesday launched a vigorous defense of his Supreme Court nominee, White House lawyer Harriet Miers, as he tried to quell a rebellion from conservative Republicans who questioned whether she will shift the court to the right as they desire.

At his first formal news conference in four months, Bush also ruled out handing over internal White House documents on Miers sought by Democrats that might shed light on her legal views. He said presidential advisers must be able to give advice without worrying it may someday be made public.

Bush went to the White House Rose Garden looking to tamp down conservative criticism that by choosing Miers, who is not a judge or expert on constitutional law, he missed a rare chance to pick a jurist who could replace the retiring moderate conservative Sandra Day O'Connor and give the nine-member court a conservative majority.

He rejected charges that he picked a White House crony when many other candidates were available. He said he has known her a long time and believes she shares his conservative philosophy and will do so for decades to come on the high court if confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

"I picked the best person I could find. People know we're close. But you got to understand, because of our closeness, I know the character of the person," he said.

He added later: "She is plenty bright. ... She hasn't been, you know, one of these publicity hounds. She's been somebody (who) just quietly does her job."

Bush also denied he picked Miers, 60, in order to avoid a bloody Senate confirmation battle with Democrats at a time when he has been politically weakened by Iraq, the slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina and high gasoline prices.

The criticism from the right was notable because conservatives have typically rallied to his side. They were particularly alarmed at reports she was a Democrat in the 1980s, when conservative icon Ronald Reagan was president, and at comments by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, who said on Monday that "I like Harriet Miers."

On Tuesday Reid said he had not endorsed Miers and would withhold judgment until after the Senate Judiciary Committee conducts confirmation hearings.

NO PAPER TRAIL

The absence of a paper trail that might lift the veil on Miers' views about hot-button issues like abortion has led to concerns on both sides about the Dallas-born lawyer who was Bush's personal attorney in Texas and moved with him to the White House.

Bush, who reiterated his anti-abortion stance in saying he was "pro-life," suggested it was an advantage picking someone who is not a judge because there is an absence of written opinions and "there's not a lot of opinions for people to look at."

Asked if he knew her position on abortion, Bush insisted he had no litmus test, but when pressed, said "not to my recollection" did he ever talk to her about it.

There was one revelation, however, that could fuel conservative concerns, by conservative Web site AMERICAblog.com that posted a questionnaire Miers filled out in her 1989 campaign for Dallas City Council in which she stated she endorsed the same civil rights for gays as for non-gays, but opposed revoking current statutes.

With some Democrats saying Miers may well be a mainstream nominee, Senate confirmation looked achievable, but a key question will be how hard Democrats fight for the internal White House documents that could shed light on her views.

Bush, who refused to turn over internal Justice Department documents on John Roberts during his confirmation as U.S. chief justice, said he would refuse again in this case.

Some of the criticism has been biting, like that of Republican firebrand Patrick Buchanan, a former Reagan aide.

"Handed a once-in-a-generation opportunity to return the Supreme Court to constitutionalism, George W. Bush passed over a dozen of the finest jurists of his day -- to name his personal lawyer," Buchanan wrote.

Among those making lukewarm comments was Sen. Sam Brownback (news, bio, voting record), a conservative Kansas Republican and a member of the Judiciary Committee that will hold Miers' confirmation hearing.

He said he wanted to know more about her and hoped she would be in the mold of conservative justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

(Additional reporting by Thomas Ferraro and Adam Entous)

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