Published October 07, 2005
WASHINGTON – President Bush defended his nomination of Harriet Miers (search) to the Supreme Court Friday, saying that she will be confirmed and serve as a justice on the bench despite questions by skeptical conservatives about her qualifications.
Bush answered questions from reporters during a White House press conference in the Oval Office, but would not directly answer a question about whether he would consider withdrawing her nomination.
“She is going to be on the bench,” Bush said. “She’s going to be confirmed.”
Following Bush’s announcement that Miers was his pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (search), some conservatives argued that Miers lacks judicial experience and her positions on some issues are unknown. But the president argues she has a record of real-life experience.
“She has a record of accomplishment that is extraordinary in my judgment,” Bush said after a meeting with the prime minister of Hungary on Friday. “I’m confident that she’s going to be a Supreme Court judge that will not legislate from the bench and will strictly interpret the Constitution.”
Click in the video box to the right to watch a report by FOX News' Jim Angle.
Conservatives have stressed the need for a judge that will not legislate from the bench, pointing to judges who, in recent years, they consider "activist" in their rulings on issues such as gay marriage and end-of-life issues.
This week, some conservative leaders did go to bat for Miers, who is currently serving as White House counsel, by working the phones and urging doubting conservatives to support her nomination.
Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman (search), along with other conservative leaders, participated in a national teleconference Thursday to rally for support for the nominee.
First Lady Laura Bush (search) also voiced support for Miers, saying "I think she'll be really terrific."
On Friday, Sen. Conrad Burns met with Miers, saying afterward that he was pleased with Bush's choice. "Ms. Miers has a great sense of humor and a great understanding of the importance of the legal arena in our nation," the Montana Republican said.
As some conservatives campaigned for Miers on Friday, the 60-year-old nominee was expected to meet with former Sen. Dan Coats (search) of Indiana. The White House tapped the respected conservative to help usher Miers' confirmation in the Senate.
In a FOX News’ exclusive, Coats said he planned to meet with Miers for the first time on Friday to get to know her.
Coats dismissed criticism from conservatives, saying that Miers fits Bush’s criteria to be faithful to the Constitution, uphold the law and use her real-life experience in her position to rule on the bench.
“There is a great substance to Harriet Miers, a lady of integrity that has achieved very significant achievements for a woman,” Coats said. “We’ve had a number of distinguished Supreme Court justices who haven’t had that experience.
Coats may have been chosen to shepherd Miers based on his own record as a conservative senator. In the Senate from 1989 to 1999, Coats pushed legislation to restrict abortion, tried to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts because of grants it made to artists he said mocked God, and led the opposition to allowing gays in the military.
“Dan Coats is a well-respected former senator, former ambassador to Germany who’s known on both sides of the aisle as a man of integrity and principle and conviction,” said former Republican Party Chairman Ed Gillespie (search).
While Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (search) experienced a smooth confirmation process, Miers may not receive the same reception, as she must convince both conservatives and some Democrats that she is the right person for the job.
Miers was scheduled to visit more leaders on Capitol Hill Friday, after spending time Thursday meeting with members and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Sam Brownback (search), R-Kan., told FOX News that he worries how he will come to a decision of whether to vote for Miers since she has no written record of her opinions.
“And what has me at discomfort is what we don’t know. And are unlikely to know given the candidate doesn’t have much of a written record,” Brownback said.
One GOP leader who met with Miers said he is inclined to support the nominee.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (search), R-S.C., said people need to stop complaining about Miers and engaging in what he called cheap shots until they get a chance to find more about her.
“People want their 15 minutes of fame,” Graham said. “This isn’t about Harriet, it’s about them.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.