- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers continued her rounds on Capitol Hill yesterday, winning more praise from Republicans but still facing doubt among some conservatives.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, endorsed her nomination based on his personal association with her for the past 15 years.

“I don’t need to reserve judgment because I know she’s the right person for the job now,” he said.

Mr. Cornyn, a former state attorney general and Texas Supreme Court justice, knew Miss Miers when she practiced law in Texas.

Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, however, said he is far from convinced that Mr. Bush’s nominee is worthy of a seat on the high court.

“There are a lot more people — men, women and minorities — that are more qualified in my opinion by their experience than she is,” he said yesterday on MSNBC.

“I don’t just automatically salute or take a deep bow anytime a nominee is sent up,” Mr. Lott told MSNBC. “I have to find out who these people are, and right now, I’m not satisfied with what I know.”

Mr. Lott joins other conservatives — such as Republican Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Tom Coburn on Oklahoma, both of whom sit on the Judiciary Committee — who have expressed skepticism about Miss Miers’ credentials as a judicial conservative.

“Harriet Miers deserves a fair and thorough hearing and confirmation process,” Mr. Coburn said. “I look forward to learning more about her qualifications and judicial philosophy in the coming days.”

Miss Miers will meet with both Mr. Coburn and Mr. Brownback today.

Also skeptical are Democrats such as Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. After meeting with the nominee for an hour yesterday, Mr. Leahy said many questions remained unanswered.

One area of concern for Mr. Leahy has been the White House effort to quell a revolt among conservatives over the nomination of someone without a clear record of opposition to abortion rights. Several leading conservatives say they have been assured that she’s OK.

Mr. Leahy asked Miss Miers whether anyone had been authorized to speak on her behalf about any of her political views.

“She assured me: ‘Absolutely not,’” he told reporters yesterday after meeting with her.

Mr. Leahy also said Democrats will ask the White House for documents pertaining to her service in the Bush administration — many of which will likely be denied under executive and attorney-client privilege. He noted the 60,000 pages of documents handed over during the hearings for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and said such documents are even more important in this case because Miss Miers has never been a judge.

Asked about Republican proposals to begin hearings Nov. 7 in order to have her confirmed by Thanksgiving, Mr. Leahy said, “I think the biggest mistake the Senate could do would be to set an artificial deadline.”

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