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Under the new leadership of former Michigan Gov. John Engler, the National Association of Manufacturers got involved in the fight over Supreme Court nominations for the first time in its 110-year history. Having endorsed John Roberts Jr.’s nomination to the high court, NAM is currently in the process of evaluating President George W. Bush’s second pick, White House Counsel Harriet Miers. But pushing judicial nominations is hardly new territory for the former Republican governor. Engler’s supporters and critics agree that his state court judicial appointments were among the most important legacies of his three-term tenure as governor. “Having been a lawyer, he really understood the need to have a judiciary prepared to carry out the wishes of the legislature and governor,” says Richard McLellan, the co-chair of “Lawyers for Bush/Cheney” in 2000 and 2004 and the Michigan point person for the Miers nomination. Michigan’s high court currently has a reliable Republican majority, thanks to Engler. As evidence of that legacy, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan — originally a part of the Engler court apparatus — and Justice Robert Young Jr., an Engler appointee, were both reportedly on the White House’s short-list to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. But one Michigan lawyer and court watcher says that there was some speculation that Engler urged the White House not to consider those justices, fearing that would upset the stability of Michigan’s high court. Patrick Cleary, NAM’s senior vice president of communications, says the rumors are “absolutely not true.”
Joe Crea is a reporter forInfluence , and can be contacted at [email protected] .

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