Miers' Abortion Stand Fuels Debate

White House counsel and Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers begins her courtesy calls on the Senate, Monday, Oct. 3, 2005 in Washington. President Bush nominated Miers to the Supreme Court turning to a lawyer who has never been a judge to replace Sandra Day O'Connor and help reshape the nation's judiciary.(AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson) AP

Dallas City Council candidate Harriet Miers opposed abortion. Supreme Court candidate Harriet Miers says no one knows how she'd rule on abortion.

Senators, meet Harriet Miers, President Bush's nominee for the high court, aiming for confirmation by Thanksgiving.

Miers pledged unflagging opposition to abortion as a city council candidate in 1989, according to documents released Tuesday. She backed a constitutional amendment to ban the procedure in most cases and promised to appear at "pro-life rallies and special events."

Asked in a Texans United for Life questionnaire whether she would support legislation restricting abortions if the Supreme Court allowed it, Miers indicated she would. Her reply was the same when asked, "Will you oppose the use of city funds or facilities" to promote abortions?

CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports that the questionnaire gave some skeptical Democrats an opening to call for complete candor at her confirmation hearings.

"The questionnaire means one thing: that Harriet Miers needs to make clear to the American people her judicial philosophy, her ideology on a whole range of constitutional issues," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

On Monday, Schumer said Miers had told him "nobody knows my views on Roe v. Wade. Nobody can speak for me on Roe v. Wade," the case that set a legal precedent that abortion foes have been trying to overturn since it was created.

Supporters of Miers' nomination said they hoped the single sheet of paper — delivered to the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of a shipment of 12 boxes of documents — would help reassure rebellious conservatives that she would not disappoint them if she took a seat on the high court.

President Bush knew of the views she had held before he picked her for the court, spokesman Scott McClellan said at the White House. But he said the president "did not discuss with her or anyone else whether or not those were still her views."

One Democratic supporter of abortion rights responded warily. "This raises very serious concerns about her ability to fairly apply the law without bias in this regard. It will be my intention to question her very carefully about these issues," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.

Miers also returned a lengthy questionnaire to the Judiciary Committee during the day in which she wrote that the "role of the judiciary in our system of government is limited. ... And of course, parties should not be able to establish social policy through court action, having failed to persuade the legislative branch or the executive branch of the wisdom and correctness of their preferred course.

"Courts are to be arbiters of disputes, not policymakers."

Miers, who ran the search for John Roberts, also revealed that , Borger reports. But the second time around, she wrote, "individuals at the White House began considering me as a potential nominee without advising me." After four meetings with the president, she was offered the job.
  • Joel Roberts

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