Miers mired in Roe v. Wade

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON (AP) – Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers said Monday she has not told anyone her views on the landmark 1973 ruling that established abortion rights, although she believes the Constitution contains a right to privacy, according to lawmakers who met separately with her. “She said nobody knows my views on Roe v. Wade. Nobody can speak for me on Roe v. Wade,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., referring to the case that set a legal precedent that abortion foes have been trying to overturn since it was created. A subsequent meeting led a politically awkward moment when the White House said the man who will preside over Miers’ confirmation hearings, Sen. Arlen Specter, had erroneously described comments she made in their private conversation. Specter told reporters that beyond stating that constitution includes a right to privacy, Miers had voiced support for two privacy-related rulings handed down a generation ago in which the court affirmed a right for couples to use contraceptives. But former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., who is shepherding Miers’ nomination, said in a telephone interview that the Pennsylvania Republican was mistaken. “When asked about the Griswold case, Harriet Miers said what she has consistently said all along, and that is … she is not commenting on specific cases,” he said in reference to a 1965 ruling involving the use of contraceptives by married couples. An aide to Specter, William Reynolds, subsequently issued a statement saying the senator “accepts Ms. Miers statement that he misunderstood what she said.” The right to privacy is the constitutional underpinning of the 1973 court’s abortion ruling. Whatever transpired in the session in Specter’s office, the episode marked the latest bump in a confirmation campaign that has been anything but smooth. At the White House, President Bush began a third week of trying to stem criticism from conservatives that he picked a crony without necessary qualifications for the court. The president met with six former Texas supreme court justices who traveled to Washington to serve as character witnesses for Miers, a 60-year-old former private practice lawyer who is currently White House chief counsel. “They’re here to send a message … that the person I picked to take (retiring Justice) Sandra Day O’Connor’s place is not only a person of high character and of integrity, but a person who can get the job done,” said Bush. Senate Republicans hope to begin hearings on Miers’ nomination during the week of Nov. 7, with a vote in the Judiciary Committee the following week and the full Senate before Thanksgiving, according to officials in both parties. Specter is expected to announce a schedule as early as Tuesday, after first conferring with the senior Democrat on the panel, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont. The abortion issue hangs over Miers’ nomination much as it did over the appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts earlier this year. The situations are different however – Roberts replaced the late William Rehnquist, who voted to overturn the 1973 ruling. Miers would succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who has voted to uphold it. Additionally, Roberts won a ready embrace from conservatives, given a resume that included stints in three separate Republican administrations as well as two years as a federal appeals court judge. Not so Miers, who has spent much of her professional life at a Texas law firm, served one term on the Dallas city council, and has little by way of a record to establish her views on abortion, affirmative action and other issues. While Miers has yet to draw opposition from any Republican senators, many have been reluctant to come to her defense. And with lawmakers just back from a weeklong break, there was no visible evidence that she was gaining ground. “I don’t want to be complicit in another Souter or another Kennedy,” said Sen. George Allen, R-Va., adding he wants to satisfy himself about Miers’ judicial philosophy before deciding how to vote on her nomination. Justice David Souter and Justice Anthony Kennedy were both appointed by presidents opposed to abortion. But both men have voted to uphold the 1973 abortion ruling that many conservatives view as an example of the court creating a constitutional right that does not exist. Bush’s appearance marked the beginning of what aides described as an attempt to alter a confirmation strategy that had failed to generate much momentum. Unlike last week, when Bush talked of Miers’ religion in hopes of reassuring conservatives, his remarks and those of his guests were designed to tout her qualifications for the high court. John Hill Jr., who was a Texas Supreme Court justice in the 1980s, and was a senior partner with the same Texas law firm as Miers, said: “I would trust her with my wife and my life.” Craig Enoch, who retired after serving 11 years on the Texas Supreme Court, predicted that Miers would be a “legend on that court before her career is finished.”last_img

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