White House Counsel Tapped for O'Connor Vacancy President Bush names the woman who may soon join Chief Justice John Roberts on the nation's highest court. Harriet Miers, the 60-year-old White House counsel, is the president's pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

White House Counsel Tapped for O'Connor Vacancy

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From NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

Coming up, some conservatives go after the president's latest Supreme Court pick and after the president.

First the lead, which is the court. President Bush this morning named the woman who may soon join the new chief justice, John Roberts. She's Harriet Miers, 60 years old, White House counsel. She's President Bush's pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. President Bush spoke in the Oval Office alongside Harriet Miers.

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.

CHADWICK: Ms. Miers has been a senior adviser to and confidante of the president, but she would be the only member of the current court with no judicial experience. Here's Harriet Miers.

Ms. HARRIET MIERS (Supreme Court Nominee): If confirmed, I recognize that I will have a tremendous responsibility to keep our judicial system strong and to help ensure that the courts meet their obligations to strictly apply the laws and the Constitution.

CHADWICK: White House counsel and Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers speaking at the White House today.

Joining us is NPR White House correspondent Don Gonyea.

Don, welcome back. Do we know when President Bush made this decision, and how he offered the job to Ms. Miers?

DON GONYEA reporting:

Yes. He made the decision yesterday. He made the offer last night. I can tell you that according to the White House today, 12 to 15 candidates were seriously considered for this opening. The president met with Harriet Miers, just trying to decide if he was going to offer it with her, on three occasions prior to last night. They met September 21st, again September 28th and then again September 29th. Then last night, she was invited to the White House, to the residence, for dinner. The president was there. First lady Laura Bush was there. Recall that Laura Bush said--told reporters recently...


GONYEA: ...she hoped the president picked a woman. At that point, the offer was made.

CHADWICK: Aha. Wasn't Harriet Miers--as White House counsel, wouldn't she have been pretty deeply involved in the process of trying to select a Supreme Court nominee?

GONYEA: How's this for deeply involved? She was in charge of the selection process. There was a committee within the White House that was going over possible names, bringing them to the president. It's the same committee that existed when John Roberts became a Supreme Court nominee. And the list of names on that committee, it was Vice President Cheney, it was chief of staff Andy Card, Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, who is Mr. Cheney's chief of staff, Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general, and Miers. Now she apparently--you know, within the last couple of weeks, her name started to appear on the list, so even though she was the head of the process, the White House says someone else was vetting her, checking out her qualifications and background and all that.

CHADWICK: Well, I'm sure you recall back in 2000--you mentioned the vice president--he was the head of a committee to select people who might run as vice president for Mr. Bush, and he wound up with the job.

GONYEA: Deja vu, yeah. We are.

CHADWICK: How's her reputation around the White House?

GONYEA: They see her not just as someone who has been a very strong loyalist to the president, but within the White House, they say she has the legal skills, she has the temperament. They think she is, while not that known publicly, just the kind of person who has just the kind of mind and temperament who should be on the court.

CHADWICK: OK, good. Thank you.

NPR White House correspondent Don Gonyea. Thank you, Don.

GONYEA: All right. Take care.

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