Bush Picks Harriet Miers for the Supreemies

Washington- President Bush nominated Harriet E. Miers, the White House counsel, as his choice to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor this morning, his second nominee for the Supreme Court.

If confirmed by the Senate, Harriet Miers would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the nation’s highest court

Ms. Miers, 60, a longtime confidant of the president’s, has never been a judge, and therefore lacks a long history of judicial rulings that could reveal ideological tendencies. Her positions on such ideologically charged issues as abortion and affirmative action are not clear.

Many of President Bush’s allies had lobbied the president to choose a conservative justice to replace Justice O’Connor, a key swing vote on the court, in order to affix a conservative stamp on the court for years to come. The president has vowed to turn the court rightward. Democrats in the Senate however, have warned that a conservative pick to replace a moderate justice would lead to a drawn-out partisan battle.

Ms. Miers has spent her life serving others, Mr. Bush said in making the announcement at the White House. “And she will bring that same passion,” for helping others to the Supreme Court, he said..

Mr. Bush said Ms. Miers had devoted her life to the rule of law and added, “She will not legislate from the bench.”

If Ms. Miers is ratified by the Senate, she would be the third woman to serve on the nation’s highest court – after Justice O’Connor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who currently sits on the court. She was a leading candidate in the search for Justice O’Connor’s successor, and was also part of the White House team that led Mr. Bush to Judge John G. Roberts Jr., who was confirmed by the Senate as chief justice last week and begins work today on the Supreme Court’s new term.

The president had signaled his desire to name a woman or a member of a minority group to the Supreme Court last week when in response to a question about how close he was to choosing a successor, he said “diversity is one of the strengths of the country.”

Ms. Miers was the first woman to become a partner at a major Texas law firm and the first woman to be president of the State Bar of Texas. At one point, Ms. Miers was Mr. Bush’s personal lawyer.

In 1995, Mr. Bush, then governor of Texas, named her chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission and gave her the task of cleaning up that scandal-plagued agency.

The White House said last week that officials had consulted about 70 senators to seek names in the selection process. But Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who is on the judiciary panel, said that it was “consultation in name only” and that Ms. Miers called him to ask for suggestions in a conversation that lasted less than five minutes.

“There is no back and forth,” he said. “It’s just, ‘Give us some names.’ I said to her, ‘Look, I’d like to know who the president is considering.’ And she didn’t say anything.”

Among others who were reportedly considered by the White House were Judge Edith Brown Clement of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales; Larry D. Thompson, a former deputy attorney general and now general counsel of Pepsico in Purchase, N.Y.; and Judge Karen J. Williams of Orangeburg, S.C., who sits on the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

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