Parties differ as Miers gives answers on background

October 19, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers appeared to gain some ground with Republicans and lose some with Democrats yesterday after she turned over to senators a 57-page background questionnaire and 12 boxes of supporting documents.

Republicans who had expressed reservations about her nomination focused their attention on one of those pages: a 10-question survey dating to 1989 from Texans United for Life in which she said, as a candidate for the Dallas City Council, that she favored outlawing abortion except to save the life of a mother.

Some Democrats, including California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, described Miers' responses on abortion as cause for concern. Feinstein has said she would find it hard to vote for someone who she believed would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion.

Other Democrats noted that Miers was running for City Council and considered her answers those of a politician, not a judge -- a stance echoed by the White House.

"The role of a judge is very different from the role of a candidate or a political officeholder. And what she was doing in that questionnaire was expressing her views during the course of a campaign," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

Democrats were more critical of Miers' answers on a more recent document, the Judiciary Committee questionnaire she returned yesterday.

They said her responses about her background and legal experience were inadequate, particularly her two-sentence explanation of her experience handling constitutional issues in her current job as White House counsel.

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