Miers faces make or break confirmation hearings, senator says | VailDaily.com

Miers faces make or break confirmation hearings, senator says

WASHINGTON – Harriet Miers does not have the votes now in the GOP-controlled Senate to be confirmed for the Supreme Court and confirmation hearings “will be make or break … in a way they haven’t been for any other nominee,” a leading Democratic senator said Sunday.While Democrats pressed the White House to provide documents from Miers’ work as the president’s counsel, Republicans said the nomination that has riled conservatives is not in trouble or in danger of being withdrawn.Sen. Charles Schumer, a member of the committee that plans confirmation hearings beginning Nov. 7, said lawmakers from both parties are concerned about Miers’ qualifications, independence and judicial philosophy.”I think, if you were to hold the vote today, she would not get a majority, either in the Judiciary Committee or on the floor,” said Schumer, D-N.Y.”I think there is maybe one or two on the Judiciary Committee who have said they’d support her as of right now,” he said.But the committee chairman rejected the notion that Miers’ nomination was shaky. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said most senators are waiting for the hearings before making up their mind. “There are no votes one way or another,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”Another committee Republican, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, said he has not seen “anything coming from the White House that says that they’re going to pull this nomination.Brownback, who has been skeptical of Miers and has not announced how he will vote, added, “They’re doing everything they can to prepare Harriet Miers for the hearings right now.”Miers, a longtime Bush confidante who has never been a judge, was nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The nomination has troubled some conservatives who say it was a risky choice because Miers was a blank slate on issues such as abortion and gay rights.Democrats, too, have expressed concerns about whether the current White House counsel could sever her close ties to Bush and rule independently once she were on the bench.Presidential spokeswoman Christie Parell said Sunday that the White House looks forward to the hearings and is confident that Miers will be confirmed.GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, one of Miers’ strongest supporters and a committee member, criticized Schumer for trying to predict how senators would vote.”This really represents a radical departure from the sort of civil and dignified process that we set up” during the hearings to confirm Chief Justice John Roberts, Cornyn said in a telephone interview. “To prejudge the nominee before she’s even had a chance to participate in the hearing just strikes me as unfair.”Republicans hold a 10-8 majority in the committee.”The hearings are going to be make or break for Harriet Miers in a way that they have not been for any other nominee,” Schumer told NBC’s “Meet the Press.””And she’s going to have to do real well there. Right now, she has a rough road to hoe,” he said.Democrats renewed demands for the release of documents from Miers’ tenure in the White House. Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, noted that Bush said he decided on Miers based in part on what she had done at the White House.”We ought to at least know what she did in the White House,” he said.Schumer, Cornyn and other Republicans agree in their thinking the White House is not considering withdrawing Miers’ nomination despite a wave of negative publicity in recent days. “George Bush, say whatever else you want about him, does not back away from a fight,” Schumer said.Among those recent developments:-Miers and Specter disagreed publicly about what was said in their private meeting.-The Washington Post reported Saturday that Miers embraced racial and gender set asides to try to increase diversity in the Texas Bar Association while serving as its president in the 1990s. That raised concerns among some Republicans who oppose quotas.”We need to know more fully these views, and these things just kind of keep dribbling out and we need to have that full picture before we can vote as a committee at least, and certainly as a Senate,” Brownback said on “Fox News Sunday.”-Knight Ridder Newspapers reported Saturday that Texas officials paid Miers’ family more than $100,000 for a small piece of land in 2000 – 10 times the land’s worth – despite the state’s objections to the way the price was determined. The land in question was part of a parcel in west Dallas owned by Miers’ mother, Sally, that the state needed to build a highway off-ramp.The three-member committee that determined the price included two women who were appointed by a state judge who had received at least $5,000 in campaign contributions from Miers’ law firm. The price was later reduced from $106,915 to $80,915, but Miers has yet to return the $26,000 difference to the state.White House officials said Miers was not involved in the donations to the judge and that the $26,000 is being held in an account in her mother’s name.”The repayment funds will be released when the settlement papers are finalized,” Parell said. She said the issue was “a straight forward condemnation matter.”

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