GOP senators voice concerns on Miers

Questions of competence, judicial philosophy


WASHINGTON — .. The drumbeat of doubt from Republican senators over the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers grew louder yesterday as several lawmakers, including a pivotal conservative on the Judiciary Committee, voiced new concerns about her selection. Emerging from a weekly luncheon of Republican senators in which they discussed the troubled nomination, several lawmakers suggested that as Miers continues her visits to Capitol Hill, she is not winning over Republican lawmakers.

"I am uneasy about where we are," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican on the Judiciary Committee who had so far expressed only support for the president's choice. "Some conservative people are concerned, that is pretty obvious."

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota called Republican sentiment toward Miers' nomination "a question mark."

Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican, said he needed "to get a better feel for her intellectual capacity and judicial philosophy, core competence issues."

The public questioning by GOP senators may be an ominous sign. Of the 10 Republicans on the 18-member Judiciary Committee, Sessions joins Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and the chairman, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, in publicly voicing concern over aspects of Miers' nomination. Specter has said that Miers could benefit from a "crash course in constitutional law."

Several Republican aides, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, say two other Judiciary Committee members - Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona - have privately raised questions about Miers' judicial philosophy.

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