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President Bush predicted Friday that the Senate would confirm Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, even as a Republican senator said she had much work left to ensure that outcome. A former Republican nominee called her nomination “a disaster.” The displeasure from some on the right with Miers — they cite lack of experience or any record clearly identifying her as a strong conservative — has led to calls for the president to withdraw her nomination. Asked about those suggestions, Bush did not answer directly. He instead suggested that withdrawal wouldn’t be necessary, voicing confidence that she would be confirmed. “She is going to be on the bench. She’ll be confirmed,” Bush told reporters after an Oval Office meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany. Among conservatives, William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, and the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue called for Bush to withdraw the Miers nomination. Former federal judge Robert Bork — whose nomination to the Supreme Court the Senate rejected in 1987 — described the choice of Miers as “a disaster on every level.” “It’s a little late to develop a constitutional philosophy or begin to work it out when you’re on the court already,” Bork said on “The Situation” on MSNBC. “It’s kind of a slap in the face to the conservatives who’ve been building up a conservative legal movement for the last 20 years.” By the end of Miers’ first week as the nominee, the White House counsel had met with 16 senators and headed for Texas for the weekend to gather material from her legal career to answer the Senate’s questions. After meeting with her on Friday, Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., praised Miers’ sense of humor, knowledge of the West and “great understanding of the importance of the legal arena in our nation.” But he said he wouldn’t be able to decide whether to support her until he can learn more through her confirmation hearings. The White House, faced with such wait-and-see receptions from several Republicans, stressed it is early yet in the process. Reinforcing that fact, the formal paperwork for Miers’ nomination was just sent to the Hill on Friday afternoon. “People are just coming to know who Harriet Miers is,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. Bush got some good news and some bad news from Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. In an interview, Sessions said he gives “a presumption to the president” as he decides whether to vote for Miers. But Sessions did so only after saying her lack of “firsthand understanding of Supreme Court jurisprudence” leads to an unfavorable comparison with Bush’s previous nominee, Chief Justice John Roberts. Sessions also said Miers could be in trouble with the Republican senators who worry that she could end up disappointing the right much like Justice David Souter, a little-known judge nominated for the court by the first President Bush who later turned out to be a liberal on the Supreme Court. Those concerns stem from the 60-year-old Miers’ career, which encompassed 28 years as a corporate attorney in Texas, stints as a member of the Dallas City Council and as chair of the Texas Lottery Commission, and, since 2001, as a top member of Bush’s White House staff. None of the positions offers a public record from which conservatives can glean the information they want about her views on issues such as abortion and gay rights or on constitutional interpretation. “Conservatives do not have confidence she has a well-formed judicial philosophy, and they are afraid she might drift and be a part of the activist group like Justice Souter has,” Sessions said. “She will need to articulate a vision of the Constitution and the role of a judge that is sound.” Kristol said the nomination was a mistake that Miers could fix by offering to step aside. “She doesn’t have the intellectual distinction or the track record to really justify putting her on the Supreme Court,” he said on NBC’s “Today” show. Earlier this week, Operation Rescue promised an active campaign to persuade the president to change his mind about Miers. Bush didn’t seem inclined to do so. Pressed on whether he was set against withdrawing Miers’ name, Bush said he “made it clear” with his earlier comments. “She has got a record of accomplishment that is extraordinary, in my judgment,” the president said. “I’m confident she’s going to be a Supreme Court judge who will not legislate from the bench and will strictly interpret the Constitution.” Meanwhile, the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, warned the White House against assuming that spreading word of Miers’ strong Christian faith and long ties to an evangelical Dallas church would win over conservatives. “The larger questions that must be addressed are where one stands on the Constitution, their judicial philosophy and their fundamental view of the law. At this point in time, we have no idea where Harriet Miers stands on any of those issues,” Mahoney said. “To the supporters of Ms. Miers and the White House, please stop treating faith as a political commodity.” McClellan portrayed those who have voiced increasingly sharp opinions about Miers’ unsuitability as merely “one or two individuals” who are canceled out by the scores who support her. “There are a lot of conservatives who know Harriet Miers, and they are strongly supportive of her being confirmed to the United States Supreme Court,” he said. Associated Press Writers Jesse Holland and Jeffrey McMurray 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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