- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2005

Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday implored conservatives who are criticizing Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers to “keep your powder dry” and wait until Senate confirmation hearings to judge her qualifications.

“I would argue, for my friends out there who share my conservative philosophy, that in fact Harriet is very much consistent with those principles that the president has enunciated throughout his time as president of the United States,” Mr. Cheney told Brit Hume in an interview on Fox News Channel.

“Folks who are sort of sitting back or who have been somewhat critical at this point — again, a lot of them good friends of mine — hold your powder dry, keep your powder dry and watch how she acquits herself in front of the committee.”

Mr. Cheney, who was referring to the Senate Judiciary Committee, is trying to quell a growing rebellion among Republicans who think President Bush should have nominated someone with more demonstrably conservative credentials. Yesterday, the National Pro-Life Action Center became the latest group to call on the president to withdraw Miss Miers’ nomination.

“With 45 million children’s lives lost to abortion, the stakes are simply too high to gamble on another stealth candidate,” said the center’s chairman, Stephen Peroutka. “Harriet Miers may well be a phenomenal lawyer who is pro-life and devoutly Christian, but the fact is we will never know because of the flawed nature of the modern confirmation process.”

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the confirmation process will reveal that Miss Miers “has deep knowledge of the Constitution and constitutional law.” Although Miss Miers has never been a judge, she currently serves as White House counsel, where she grapples with some of the same issues confronted by the Supreme Court, he said.

“Among the constitutional law matters that a White House counsel has to deal with on a daily basis include laws governing war powers, commander in chief powers, pardons, executive privilege, the appointments clause, the commerce clause, the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, which relates to the Patriot Act, the Fourteenth Amendment, and many other areas,” Mr. McClellan said.

“I would also point out that she would be the only Supreme Court justice who has actually had to comply with the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution in drawing a redistricting map, because she served as a city councilwoman in Dallas,” he added.

Mr. Cheney emphasized that Miss Miers helped the president select hundreds of other judicial nominees, including the recently confirmed Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

“If you’re looking at her philosophy, she has been intimately involved working with us in picking nominees,” he said. “And this president has made, I believe, 243 nominations now to [the] federal bench — federal district, appellate and Supreme Court nominations.”

The vice president declined to reveal his own advice to Mr. Bush when it came to picking Miss Miers. But he said he supports her now that the president has chosen her.

“Once he has made a decision, I support those decisions,” Mr. Cheney said. “I think Harriet will be a good Supreme Court justice. I support her nomination.”

He said some conservatives are having trouble coping with Miss Miers’ lack of judicial history. But he emphasized that many non-judges have served admirably on the Supreme Court, including the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

“Some of our friends are having difficulty trying to get a handle on Harriet in terms of her views because she hasn’t written legal opinions as a judge,” he said.

“There is no reason for them to have doubts about her,” he added. “Her appearance before the committee will be very reassuring to those who do have those doubts.”

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