TV & Radio
Bush moves to reassure conservatives on his court choice
By David Stout The New York Times
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2005
WASHINGTON President George W. Bush sought again Wednesday to reassure conservatives about his Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers, and he said that Miers's religion was pertinent to the overall discussion about her.
"People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers," Bush said.
"They want to know Harriet Miers's background," the president added. "They want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions."
"Part of Harriet Miers's life is her religion," Bush went on, in remarks that may be revived during Miers's confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee several weeks from now.
"Part of it has to do with the fact that she was a pioneer woman and a trailblazer in the law in Texas."
The president went on to say, in a brief question-answer session with reporters at the White House, that Miers was "eminently qualified" to sit on the court, and that she would be a justice who "will not legislate from the bench but strictly interpret the Constitution."
Bush's allusion to Miers came shortly after the conservative James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, said on a radio broadcast that he had discussed the nominee's religious views with the president's chief political adviser, Karl Rove.
Dobson said he talked to Rove on Oct. 1, two days before Bush announced his choice, and had been told that "Harriet Miers is an evangelical Christian, that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life, that she has taken on the American Bar Association on the issue of abortion and fought for a policy that would not be supportive of abortion, that she had been a member of the Texas Right to Life."
Dobson went on to say that he and Rove had not discussed cases that might come before the court and that "we did not discuss Roe v. Wade in any context."
The Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade established a woman's right to have an abortion.
A leading Democrat expressed unease over Dobson's remarks.
"The rest of America, including the Senate, deserves to know what he and the White House know," said Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking minority member on the Judiciary Committee.
"We don't confirm justices of the Supreme Court on a wink and a nod. And a litmus test is no less a litmus test by using whispers and signals."
Bush has said that he has no "litmus test" for judicial nominees, and that he has not discussed the Roe v. Wade decision with Miers.
The Miers nomination has been greeted with wariness, even near hostility, by some conservatives Republicans, who have expressed doubts that Miers is really one of their own.
The nominee has never been a judge and so has left no "paper trail" of opinions to dissect.
Critics on the right have also complained that Miers has given no sign that she has studied or even pondered the sort of constitutional issues that define the modern conservative-liberal divide, and that the White House bypassed conservative legal scholars and justices who had done so in favor of a presidential aide whose chief qualification appeared to be her proximity and loyalty to Bush.
Conservative Christians initially resisted discussion of religion when Judge John Roberts Jr., a Roman Catholic, was nominated for the Supreme Court.
"We are going to be vigilant to make sure that there is not this religious litmus test imposed," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, an evangelical Protestant group, said in August.
Roberts told the Judiciary Committee that his private beliefs would not affect how he rules on matters of law.
He was endorsed by the committee and confirmed overwhelmingly by the Senate as chief justice of the United States.
by alfayoko2005 | 2005-10-16 23:51