Miers to End Her Meetings with Senators; Supreme Court Nomineewill Cram for Hearings

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 21, 2005 | Go to article overview

Miers to End Her Meetings with Senators; Supreme Court Nomineewill Cram for Hearings


Byline: Charles Hurt, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Harriet Miers - whose courtesy calls with senators in their Capitol Hill offices have been more chaotic than courteous - has finished the tour, the White House has told congressional aides.

Miss Miers will spend the next two weeks cramming for her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Republican Senate staffers working on the nomination told The Washington Times yesterday.

The meetings have been fraught with misunderstandings and disagreements, giving ammunition to detractors, both liberal and conservative, that Miss Miers is in over her head.

"No one is walking out of these meetings thinking they've just met with a star," a Republican Judiciary staffer said yesterday.

Depending on how the confirmation hearings go next month, the White House may schedule more meetings after the hearings have concluded.

"This is highly unusual," said one Republican staffer, who noted that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. had private meetings with senators in the weeks preceding his confirmation hearings.

By the time Justice Roberts took the oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he had met with more than half of the 100 members of the Senate. Miss Miers has met with only about 25 senators.

Staffers said she will attend two previously scheduled meetings today, but that will be all.

Her meeting with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter this week particularly did not go well.

After the meeting, the Pennsylvania Republican told reporters that she had told him that the constitution contains a "right to privacy," which is the foundation for the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a constitutional right.

After the White House was asked for a response, Miss Miers telephoned Mr. Specter and told him that he had misunderstood and that she had said no such thing.

Mr. Specter's press secretary quickly issued a carefully worded statement that fell short of a retraction of his earlier statement.

"Senator Specter accepts Ms. Miers' statement that he misunderstood what she said," William Reynolds concluded. Later in the week, Mr. Specter added, "I've never walked out of a room and had a disagreement as to what was said. …

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