U.S. Senators React to Miers' High Court Pullout

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Day to Day features the comments of several U.S. Senators reacting to the announcement of the decision by Harriet Miers, the Bush White House's top legal counsel, to withdraw from the confirmation process to serve on the Supreme Court.

NOAH ADAMS, host:

It was at the beginning of this month that President Bush announced the nomination of Harriet Miers, October 3rd at the White House.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: She has devoted her life to the rule of law and the cause of justice. She will be an outstanding addition to the Supreme Court of the United States.

ADAMS: But Democrats and Republicans criticized Miers for giving them incomplete information about her legal philosophy first in private and then in public. Much of the Senate Judiciary Committee didn't like her answers to the written questionnaire that's now a standard part of confirmation hearings. On the 19th, Senator Patrick Leahy, ranking Democrat on the committee, announced that Miers needed to do the questionnaire over.

Senator PATRICK LEAHY (Democrat, Vermont): The comments I've heard range from incomplete to insulting. Certainly it was inadequate and did not give us enough to prepare for a hearing.

ADAMS: For Harriet Miers, recovering from that bad start in the Senate proved to be impossible. Today, on Capitol Hill, there appears to be little regret over her withdrawal. Mississippi Republican Senator Trent Lott said that the Miers nomination was a bad idea.

Senator TRENT LOTT (Republican, Mississippi): I think she made the right decision and I think she deserves a lot of credit for realizing that this was going to be very difficult, particularly in view of her position as White House counsel. We needed to know more about her. We needed to know more about the position she had taken at the White House, and that was going to create constitutional executive privilege problems with the president. And I had problems with her in terms of her experience and qualifications. And I think this is a good thing for the president and for the process, and I think he'll come up with a very strong nomination in replacement.

ADAMS: And Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said that not a single Republican senator called for Miers' withdrawal. It was indeed the extreme right of President Bush's party.

Senator CHUCK SCHUMER (Democrat, New York): If the president continues to listen to that extreme wing on judicial nominations or everything else, it can only spell trouble for his presidency and for America. The president now should take his time. When we do it again, the president should do it right, slowly, deliberately, carefully with real consultation and real consensus.

ADAMS: Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat from California, said she never made up her mind about Harriet Miers, but she never forgot what it meant to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court.

Senator DIANNE FEINSTEIN (Democrat, California): There are many of us who are women who would like to see another woman. I took great pride in Sandra Day O'Connor. I take great pride in Ruth Ginsburg. It's wonderful to see women on the Supreme Court because it means when a woman has made it that the door is open for all women, and that's a very important symbol out there.

ADAMS: And as we mentioned earlier, Sandra Day O'Connor will continue to serve on the bench. President Bush has said Harriet Miers will stay on as White House counsel. He said in a statement today, `My responsibility to fill this vacancy remains. I will do so in a timely manner.'

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