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One of the Senate’s senior conservatives, Republican Orrin Hatch, offered unconditional support Tuesday to Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers amid expressions of anxiety in some Republican quarters over her legal philosophy. The Utah Republican took on criticism that Miers has no experience as a judge and a largely unknown track record — something that worries some conservatives. “A lot of my fellow conservatives are concerned, but they don’t know her as I do,” said Hatch, a former Judiciary Committee chairman. “She’s going to basically do what the president thinks she should, and that is be a strict constructionist.” Hatch said he already has decided to support her confirmation. “I don’t need any more. I know her really well. And I intend to support her,” he told reporters. President Bush, at a news conference in the White House’s Rose Garden, asked the Senate to confirm Miers by Thanksgiving and urged Democrats to give her a chance to explain her views of the law and the Constitution. He worried aloud that issues could surface, noting that half of the Democratic members of the Senate had voted against John Roberts, his choice to succeed William H. Rehnquist as chief justice of the United States. But Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada took to the Senate floor after Bush’s speech to praise Miers. “With so much at stake, we shouldn’t rush to judgment about this or any other nominee, but even at this early stage of the confirmation process, I will say that I am impressed by what I know about Harriet Miers,” said Reid, who recommended her to the president. “Ms. Miers has not been a judge, but I regard that as a strength, not a weakness,” said Reid, a former trial lawyer himself. “In my view, the Supreme Court would benefit from the addition of a justice who has real experience as a practicing lawyer, a nominee with relevant nonjudicial experience.” Miers, who was meeting Tuesday with Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Judiciary Committee member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., was nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. “I know her. I know her heart. Remember, she was part of the search committee that picked John Roberts,” said Bush, who used his Rose Garden news conference to reiterate his credentials as a conservative. Bush has known Miers for more than 10 years, first as his personal lawyer and most recently as a White House counsel. “When it’s all said and done, the American people are going to know what I know: This woman deserves to be on the bench. And she’ll bring credit to the bench and to the law,” he said. Facing criticism from conservatives who were disappointed over his father’s choice of Justice David Souter, who has become one of the most liberal members of the court, Bush insisted that Miers was a strict constructionist and a conservative and would stay that way. “She isn’t going to change over the course of time,” Bush said. But some conservatives aren’t yet sure. “I have said in the past that I would like a nominee with a proven track record on important issues to all Americans and whose judicial philosophy is well-formed,” said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., one of Congress’ most fervent anti-abortion lawmakers. “I am not yet confident that Ms. Miers has a proven track record.” The conservative National Review, in a Monday editorial, called the Miers nomination a “missed opportunity.” “Being a Bush loyalist and friend is not a qualification for the Supreme Court. She may have been the best pick from within Bush’s inner circle,” the magazine said. “It seems impossible to maintain that she was the best pick from any larger field. It seems highly unlikely that she will be the kind of justice who, in combination with Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas, will attract additional votes by the sheer force of her arguments.” In a round of television interviews Tuesday, White House counselor Dan Bartlett sought to reassure conservatives who have expressed concern that Miers might not be conservative enough for their tastes because she had no strong record on hot-button issues like abortion and gay rights. “She shares President Bush’s judicial outlook and that is that justices shouldn’t be creating law from the bench, they should be strictly interpret the Constitution,” Bartlett said on CBS’ “The Early Show.” Bartlett said that Bush had not asked Miers her views on issues like abortion or gay rights. “President Bush thinks it’s very important not to impose a litmus test on judicial candidates,” Bartlett said on NBC’s “Today” show. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said conservatives put great weight in Bush’s judgment but they would have preferred a nominee with a documented conservative track record. The president’s recommendation “gives us some level of comfort but that has to be combined with some evidence,” he told MSNBC. Perkins did not take a position on the nomination and said he will be looking for clues to her judicial philosophy during the confirmation hearings. Associated Press writer Elizabeth White contributed to this story. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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