- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 27, 2005

President Bush withdrew the nomination of Harriet Miers today after three weeks of blistering criticism from his own party.

Mr. Bush said that he “reluctantly accepted” Miss Miers’ decision that her nomination be withdrawn and noted the highly charged atmosphere on Capitol Hill over filling a swing seat on the Supreme Court now held by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Specifically, Mr. Bush and Miss Miers blamed the opposition to her nomination on demands from both Democrats and Republicans for White House documents whose release they said would violate executive privilege as well as attorney-client privilege.

“I understand and share her concern, however, about the current state of the Supreme Court confirmation process,” the president said in a somber tone. “It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House, disclosures that would undermine a president’s ability to receive candid counsel.”

The most intense opposition to the nomination came from some of Mr. Bush’s strongest supporters — conservatives who wanted Justice O’Connor to be replaced by a jurist with a clear record of conservative judicial thinking.

Although no senators publicly called for Miss Miers’ withdrawal, several conservative Republicans expressed reservations about the Miers nomination. However, any concerns were ancient history within minutes of the withdrawal as Republicans strove to mend self-inflicted wounds.

“Harriet Miers is a smart and accomplished person,” said Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican. “Her acknowledgment that the principles of lawyer-client and executive privilege are larger than any one nominee demonstrates an honorable humility and commitment to first principles that are rare in Washington, D.C.”

Not everyone was so complimentary.

“Harriet Miers is a fine and capable person, but this was clearly the wrong position for her,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, who sits on the Judiciary Committee. “Her gracious withdrawal saves Harriet Miers and the nation from a difficult and agonizing process and decision.”

Mr. Bush said he would announce a new nominee shortly, but some on Capitol Hill said they doubted a new nominee could make it to the bench before the end of the year.

Democrats warned against nominating someone they view as “extreme.”

“There is now one clear path for the president, to choose a knowledgeable and mainstream successor in the mold of Sandra Day O’Connor,” Mr. Schumer said. “These are very difficult times for the country, and the nation cries out for unity. Mr. President, this is a time for leadership. Please help bring America together with a choice that unites, not divides us.”

In a letter, Miss Miers thanked Mr. Bush for the nomination and his support.

“I have been greatly honored and humbled by the confidence that you have shown in me, and have appreciated immensely your support and the support of many others,” she wrote. “However, I am concerned that the confirmation process presents a burden for the White House and our staff that is not in the best interest of the country.”

For Mr. Bush’s part, he said he remained confident in his nominee.

“I nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court because of her extraordinary legal experience, her character and her conservative judicial philosophy,” he said.



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