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Right Wrangles over Miers

Though President Bush and some of his allies have repeatedly asserted that they know exactly what kind of justice Harriet Miers would be if confirmed to the Supreme Court, nothing has yet turned up in her record that could give the American people a similarly clear picture of the nominee.

The New York Times' review of documents from the President's tenure as governor of Texas reveals what already seemed apparent: Miers holds Bush in the highest regard. Our research team continues to review public information in Miers' record that might shed light on her legal views and judicial philosophy -- but such information remains thin.

Hypocritically, many on the right who previously insisted that a nominee's position on important legal questions should have no bearing on a confirmation vote have now reversed themselves. In fact, not only are they demanding to know where Miers stands, they're demanding a guarantee that she'll deliver their desired votes on the issues they care about most.

Those in the President's camp who are trying to quell the growing right-wing revolt are similarly forgetting objections they made during Chief Justice Roberts' confirmation process that foreshadowing rulings on issues that could come before the Supreme Court would be improper. The Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land, a guest on Sunday's Meet the Press,  responded to notes of a conference call convened by GOP Chair Ken Mehlman for grassroots leaders that PFAW made available on our website. Land acknowledged that he had touted Miers' lack of independence as a virtue, saying, "If Harriet Miers didn't rule the way George W. Bush thought she would, he would see that as an act of betrayal and so would she." On that same call, Jay Sekulow, who heads Pat Robertson's ACLJ, said, "I'm involved in three cases at the Court this term, and believe me: I want Harriet Miers voting on these critical cases."

The combined effect of demands from Miers' right-wing skeptics and the overzealous reassurances of her boosters has been to build pressure on the administration to be more forthcoming with information about the nominee. Senators on both sides of the aisle -- even some who voted to confirm Roberts -- are already floating the possibility of voting no in the absence of adequate information on and answers from Miers. Kansas' Republican Senator Sam Brownback described his examination of Miers as a "CSI type of case where you're having to really investigate." Colorado's Democratic Senator Ken Salazar was alarmed after Focus on the Family's James Dobson attributed his support of Miers to information that he was "not at liberty to talk about" following a conversation with Bush's right-hand man, Karl Rove. Said Salazar, "If they're making information available to Dr. Dobsonů I believe that information should be shared equally with a U.S. senatorů If information is being shared with people in a hidden and secretive way, I think that's wrong." (Dobson has since revealed that among the assurances he received from Rove were "that Harriet Miers is an Evangelical Christian" and that "she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life.")

Clearly, Miers' nomination is quite unlike that of John Roberts. But we bring the same principles to Miers' nomination that we brought to that of John Roberts: the Senate and the American people have a right to be fully informed about the nominee's legal philosophy and views of the Constitution, and the nominee must demonstrate a commitment to a fair and independent judiciary that will safeguard our rights and liberties. We will let you know when concerted action is needed. For now, here's how to write to your senators or write to your local paper to share your concerns about ensuring a thorough review of Harriet Miers' nomination.

Write to your senators:
Write to your local paper:

--Your Allies at People For the American Way

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