Miers Nomination Blurring Party Lines
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Also on Capitol Hill today, the Senate Judiciary Committee set the date for Harriet Miers' confirmation hearings. They'll start on November 7th. But as they set the calendar, leaders of the committee said the questionnaire that Miers filled out was incomplete, and they asked for more information. Here's what the committee's chairman, Arlen Specter, had to say.
Senator ARLEN SPECTER (Democrat, Pennsylvania): Senator Leahy and I took a look at it and agreed that it was insufficient and are sending back a detailed letter asking for amplification on many, many of the items.
BLOCK: NPR senior new analyst Daniel Schorr is keeping track of the Miers nomination and trying to tally who's winning and losing.
Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter says that the confirmation process so far has been chaotic, and no wonder. It's becoming increasingly difficult to tell the score even with a scorecard. A good number of conservative Republicans continue to oppose Harriet Miers, despite her revelation than in 1989 she supported a constitutional amendment to ban almost all abortions. On the other hand, some Democrats support her; a recent Gallup poll said it was 24 percent of Democrats. Democratic Senator Tom Harkin said all the trashing is coming from the right wing of the Republican Party. That may not be strictly true, but it is true that opposition among Republican conservatives remains strong. Senator Trent Lott, for example, says, `The question remains whether she is qualified, whether she is competent.'
President Bush has reached out to evangelicals by saying that religion is part of Harriet Miers' life. That could conceivably run up against Article VI of the Constitution, which says that no religious tests shall ever be required for any public office. But more to the point, it has backfired among some conservatives. Concerned Women for America, the largest women's anti-abortion organization, says that focusing on evangelical Christianity is both patronizing and hypocritical.
The latest conservative to enter the ring against Ms. Miers is Robert Bork, who himself failed to be confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1987. In The Wall Street Journal, he says that Ms. Miers is not qualified to sit on the court and her nomination as a kind of self-candidate has damaged the prospects for court reform.
As strange a disclosure as any in this process has been Ms. Miers' revelation, in documents furnished to the Senate, that she originally declined to be considered for nomination and that, for a time, she was being considered by White House officials without her knowledge. Perhaps that's meant to indicate humility, which served Chief Justice John Roberts in good stead in his confirmation battle. What can be said is that the Miers situation is fluid. This is Daniel Schorr.
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