WASHINGTON – President Bush on Monday trotted out six former Texas Supreme Court justices to bolster the case for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers just as she was turning into the Senate Judiciary Committee a long questionnaire about her experiences and thoughts.
The Department of Justice also made available on Monday approximately 9,000 pages of materials that consisted of records from Miers' time at the Texas Lottery Commission and as a councilwoman for the city of Dallas. Justice Department officials said the Texas Lottery Commission materials aren't new, but the 6,700 papers from the Dallas City Council are being released for the first time.
Miers also met with Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer (search), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and left a mixed impression. The New York senator said he didn't know if it was possible to hold confirmation hearings on the week of Nov. 7, the intended start date from Republicans.
Schumer said he was dissatisfied that Miers would not discuss any of the work she has done while in the White House counsel's office, particularly any counseling she may have given to staff after the release of CIA operative Valerie Plame's (search) name. Miers also would not discuss any conversations she had with White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove (search), one of the main characters involved in the case into whether the leak of Plame's name constituted an illegal act.
Schumer said it was "unacceptable" that she wouldn't discuss the Plame case.
"The most important thing is to learn the nominee's ideology and judicial philosophy, how they think and how they would think as a judge. And I think lots of what she did in the White House should be public, should not be secret. I couldn't say that it alone would be disqualifying," he said.
Miers also met with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (search) of California. Feinstein said after the meeting that Miers has a soft manner and is very shy, unlike lawmakers who are "hard" and constantly driving home their positions in the public spotlight.
But Feinstein said the production of documents relating to the nominee is very slow and she is "doubtful" that all the documents can be produced before Nov. 7.
Schumer expressed surprise that Miers had no opinion on an old privacy case he said is discussed in most law-school classrooms. Schumer said Miers did not discuss her views on Griswold vs. Connecticut, which legalized the use of contracption for married couples and is said to be a basis for the Roe vs. Wade decision.
He said she did reject contentions that religious conservatives were given assurances that she would vote against Roe v. Wade, saying that no one knows her views on the abortion rights case and no one speaks for her.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada suggested that Miers' own evangelical faith answers questions for some that others aren't allowed to ask.
"Their whole terms of reference have changed since Roberts was nominated," Reid said, referring to conservatives who wanted certain questions off limits during the confirmation hearing for now-Chief Justice John Roberts (search). "There you weren't supposed to ask certain questions. Now they want these questions to be asked."
"Let me say this, my first conversation with John Roberts was far more illuminating than this conversation was," Schumer added. As one of the 18 senators with whom Miers had met so far by the end of the day on Monday, Schumer said he wanted another meeting with her before hearings start.
The Democratic senators' doubts did not worry some former Texas Supreme Court justices, who appeared Monday at the White House to endorse Miers' abilities. The former Texas justices were both Republicans and Democrats. The Texas Supreme Court is a civil court; it doesn't establish precedents in criminal law
Most of the former justices worked with Miers when she was a lawyer in Dallas and head of the Texas Bar Association. They didn't preside over cases she argued.
"I can tell you from my experience with her making real decisions about real people and real things that affect their lives and property, I know a lot about how Harriet thinks and she's a great thinker. She analyzes, she gets her facts lined up and she always does the right thing for the right reason," said former Texas Chief Justice John L. Hill, a Democrat.
So far, Bush has had more trouble promoting Miers among conservatives, who say she does not have any judicial record and has left no impression that she would not be a swing voter like the woman she is replacing, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (search), who was often the deciding vote in controversial cases. Despite the complaints, none of the Senate's 55 Republicans have given any indication they would vote against her.
Bush said Miers is a smart, capable, pioneer and leader in the legal profession who will make a great justice. He said the justices agreed to come to Washington because they concur.
"She's been consistently ranked as one of the top 50 women lawyers in the United States. She has been a leader in the legal profession. She's impressed these folks. They know her well. They know that she'll bring excellence to the bench," Bush said.
"They're here to send a message here in Washington that the person I picked to take Sandra Day O'Connor's place is not only a person of high character and of integrity, but a person who can get the job done," he added
White House aides say America will get to know Miers during the confirmation hearings, and that's where Miers will show off her knowledge of constitutional law that she gained working as a White House attorney.
FOX News' Wendell Goler and Trish Turner contributed to this report.