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Monday, October 03, 2005

White House Counsel to Replace O'Connor - New York Times

White House Counsel to Replace O'Connor - New York TimesOctober 3, 2005
White House Counsel to Replace O'Connor

President Bush chose Harriet Miers, White House counsel and a loyal member of the president's inner circle, to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, senior administration officials said Monday.

If confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, Miers, 60, would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the nation's highest court. Miers, who has never been a judge, was the first woman to serve as president of the Texas State Bar and the Dallas Bar Association.

Without a judicial record, it's difficult to know whether Miers would dramatically move the court to the right. The lack of a judicial paper trail may also make it more difficult for Democrats to find ground upon which to fight her nomination.

Democrats are under pressure from liberal interest groups to fight Bush's second Supreme Court pick. The minority party in the Senate was evenly split on the nomination of Chief Justice John Roberts, who was to open the Supreme Court term shortly after Bush announces Miers.

White House officials, who revealed Bush's pick on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to pre-empt the president, said Miers is conservative enough to satisfy the president's supporters and does not have a lengthy legal record that could embolden Democrats.

"There's every indication that she's very similar to Judge Roberts -- judicial restraint, limited role of the court, basically a judicial conservative," said Republican consultant Greg Mueller, who works for several conservative advocacy leaders.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the president offered the job to Miers Sunday night over dinner in the residence. He met with Miers on four occasions during the past couple weeks, McClellan said.

Both Democratic and Republican senators recommended Miers as a possible nominee, he said. Senators also suggested that Bush consider picking someone who was not a judge so the bench would be flush with justices from all walks of life.

"Harriet Miers, like Justice O'Connor, has been a trailblazer and a pioneer," said Rick Garnett, a law professor at Notre Dame and former law clerk to the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. "Like Justice O'Connor, Ms. Miers has broken through barriers in the law, serving as a leader and role model, and impressing everyone with her decency and her sharp intellect. She would be a worthy and appropriate successor to Justice O'Connor, and would carry to the court a commitment to constitutionalism, judicial restraint, and the rule of law."

Rehnquist, whose death paved way for Roberts' nomination, had not served as a judge before President Nixon put him on the Supreme Court.

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