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Monday, October 24, 2005 - Page updated at 10:54 AM

Miers vote may hinge on documents

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — Republican and Democratic senators called on President Bush yesterday to release documents relating to Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' service as White House counsel, with some warning that she may not win confirmation otherwise.

In discussions on television talk shows, senators of both parties said that the biggest obstacle to Miers' confirmation is a lack of information about her capabilities.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., ordinarily a Bush ally but also a social conservative who is expected to seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, warned that the Senate "is not a rubber stamp."

"If we're to give advice and consent, we've got to have a full picture," Brownback said on Fox News Sunday.

Brownback, a member of the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the committee's top Democrat, argued that because the president said he nominated Miers because of her White House experience, he should waive executive privilege and release files on at least some of her work.

"The president has based that decision on what he's seen her do in the White House. We ought to at least know what it was she did in the White House," Leahy said on the same program.

"I do think we're going to have to see more information," Brownback said. "Not attorney-client privilege-type information, but more information of the work product that she was involved in, in the White House, that's not of a legal nature but that's of a policy nature."

Presidents have a right under a legal principle known as executive privilege to keep secret the inner workings of their staff, including most of the documents they produce. In most circumstances, Bush has been firm in resisting calls to provide information about White House deliberations, and White House spokesman Scott McClellan has said he is not intending to change that policy.

However, Miers' nomination has encountered resistance from lawmakers who in recent days have increased pressure on the White House to provide more information on Miers.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Judiciary Committee, said Miers' nomination could fail if senators don't learn more about her in the coming weeks.

"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 [of the Senate]," Schumer said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

But he added that could change if she did well in committee hearings scheduled to begin Nov. 7.

The Miers nomination faces resistance from liberals concerned about her stated support for a constitutional ban on abortion, and from conservatives who think that her résumé is thin and that her close ties to Bush are the only reason she was nominated.

Miers, the White House counsel, was Bush's personal lawyer in Texas in the 1990s.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said the vote on Miers could go either way.

"It's going to depend upon how well she does (in the hearings). She's going to have 18 senators well-prepared, and it's sort of like a relay interrogation," Specter said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "But if she makes her case, she can be confirmed."

Material from The Washington Post

is included in this report.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company



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