Favoritism issue raised for Miers

first_img Bush named Miers less than a month ago to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, whose views on the constitutional questions of the most contentious issues of the day often left her as the pivotal vote on 5-4 rulings. In particular, O’Connor joined in rulings that upheld abortion rights and affirmative action. Some of Miers’ critics have dismissed her appointment as cronyism, and Specter’s advance look at his confirmation hearing questions went to the heart of the issue without mentioning the word. “What assurances can you give the Senate and the American people that you will be independent, if confirmed, and not give President Bush any special deference on any matter …?” read one of the questions. Another asked how she would decide which cases were inappropriate for her to hear, given her current role as an adviser to the president. Referring to cases involving the detainment of “enemy combatants” at a U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Specter noted that the administration contends that most of the detainees are kept in custody “not for punishment” but to keep them for interrogation and prevent them from returning to the battlefield. “Are there any limitations as to how long detainees may be held for the purposes identified by the government?” he asked, setting out the first in a series of questions he intended to pose at the hearings. Pentagon policy on the issue makes no mention of a time limit on the detentions. Additionally, Specter posed a series of questions about the authority of the president to detain illegal immigrants outside U.S. borders. These questions all appeared to involve controversy for Miers, since she has advised Bush privately about the War on Terror, and the president has long insisted that advice offered within the White House is off-limits to outsiders. The issues raised by the cases that Specter cited may resurface at the Supreme Court in the future, and nominees traditionally have shied away from offering opinions in such circumstances. Chief Justice John Roberts invoked that precedent numerous times at his own confirmation hearings. Specter also outlined questions relating to Congress’ constitutional authority to declare war. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee served notice Wednesday he intends to seek public assurances that Harriet Miers will show no favoritism toward President George W. Bush if confirmed to the Supreme Court, a fresh challenge for a nomination already in doubt. In a letter to White House counsel Miers, Sen. Arlen Specter also said he intends to question her about constitutional issues in the War on Terror, including the administration’s policy of open-ended detention of suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Specter, R-Pa., released the letter as the White House struggled to build support for an appointment that has drawn withering criticism from some prominent conservatives outside Congress and steady skepticism – or worse – from Republican senators. Three GOP officials said they no longer felt certain that Miers’ troubled nomination would survive as long as the Nov. 7 target date for hearings is kept, and that a withdrawal was not out of the question. They spoke on condition of anonymity, noting that the administration’s official policy is one of strong continued support for the president’s pick. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Outside the Senate, the conservative group Concerned Women of America urged Bush to withdraw the nomination after it initially said it would give Miers the benefit of the doubt pending confirmation hearings. “We find this Supreme Court nominee unqualified and her record troubling,” said Beverly LaHaye, the group’s founder. Miers and aides labored to answer written questions from the Judiciary Committee by day’s end, then sent word it would be close to midnight before their work was done. The panel sought the information last week after deeming her earlier responses incomplete. Miers’ round of senato rial courtesy calls continued, and Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., announced in advance he intends to ask about her former law firm’s work in providing legal opinions supporting a tax shelter that was banned by Congress in 2002. Coleman, who will meet with Miers today, said that if he learns she was directly involved with the issue, he will vote against her. He added that, based on conversations with the firm, it doesn’t appear she played a role in the legal work. last_img