WASHINGTON – Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers (search) revealed in documents given to the Senate Tuesday that in 1989, she supported a constitutional amendment that would ban all abortions except those necessary to save the life of the mother.
"If Congress passes a human life amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit abortion except when it was necessary to prevent the death of the mother, would you actively support its ratification by the Texas Legislature?" asked an April 1989 questionnaire sent out by the Texans United for Life group.
Miers checked "yes" to that question, and all the rest of the group's questions, some of which asked whether she opposed using public funds to pay for abortions and would use her influence to bar "pro-abortion" people from city health boards and commissions.
That answer is already causing some concern on Capitol Hill.Sen. Dianne Feinstein search
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told FOX News that the issue is confusion and that she is unsure how she will vote on the Miers confirmation until she knows the nominee will protect her constituents’ rights.
"This thing is being very mishandled," Boxer said. "This is a very troubling nomination."
In 1989, Miers ran for, and won, a seat on the Dallas City Council. She served a two-year term and did not run for re-election after restructuring of the council eliminated her at-large seat. Administration officials insist that Miers' answer then does not reflect how she will decide cases on related topics.
"A candidate taking a political position in the course of a campaign is different from the role of a judge making a ruling in the judicial process," White House spokesman Jim Dyke said Tuesday.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan later added that Miers recognizes that personal opinions and ideology have no place on the bench.
"We all have personal views," he said. "Some of us have religious backgrounds as well. All of those have no role to play when trying to make laws."
GOP Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn of Texas, who support Miers, say the questionnaire was written while Miers was a politician, and she would leave political decisions behind as a judge.
"That information is interesting, and some people may draw their own conclusions from it, but I believe that Harriet Miers will be the type of judge who will not attempt to pursue a personal or political agenda from the bench," Cornyn said Tuesday.
The 1989 questionnaire was included in 12 boxes of documents given to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Chief among the other documents was her answers to another questionnaire, one given to her by the Judiciary Committee. The 12-page form asked about her qualifications and connections to the president and Republican interest groups, and also demanded explanations about how she would handle conflicts of interest in cases brought by the White House.
Other questions included whether Miers had given anyone assurances about how she would vote on any case that came before the Supreme Court.
Senators will use their questionnaire and the 12 boxes of documents to determine specific questions to ask Miers in meetings and confirmation hearings, tentatively scheduled to begin Nov. 7.
"The hearings will not start until there is a date agreeable to her," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (search), R-Pa. "It would be unfair to start the hearings before she is ready."
Miers, President Bush's nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (search), will also visit with more senators on Capitol Hill Tuesday, including Republican Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Wayne Allard of Colorado.
In the Judiciary Committee questionnaire, Miers answered "no" to questions asking whether anyone during the nomination process discussed specific cases or legal issues with her to get an assurance on her positions. She also answered "no" to whether she told anyone how she might rule if confirmed.
The questionnaire also reveals that the White House was considering Miers for its first Supreme Court nomination along with now-Chief Justice John Roberts.
"When Justice Sandra Day O'Connor first announced her desire to retire, I was asked whether my name should be considered," she said in the questionnaire. "I indicated at that time that I did not want to be considered."
Miers said she then led the staff search that ended in Roberts' nomination. But she said her role was more passive after Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist (search) died.
"At some point I understand that individuals at the White House began considering me," she wrote. During four meetings with Deputy White House Counsel William Kelley, Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Bush, Miers said she "realized that my name was under consideration."
Bush offered her the position over dinner Oct. 2 and she accepted, she wrote.
Except on the 1989 questionnaire, Miers has not revealed her position on the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling which legalized abortion in all states.
Senators who have met with Miers say the nominee believes the Constitution includes a right to privacy, the constitutional underpinning of the 1973 ruling.
Confusion around Miers' position on the right to privacy came after Specter told reporters Monday that she had told him she believed the right existed. Specter, a supporter of legalized abortion, said Miers had indicated support for two privacy-related rulings regarding contraceptives.
But former Sen. Dan Coats (search), R-Ind., who is helping Miers in her confirmation process, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview that Specter was mistaken about one of them — the Griswold v. Conn. case, a 1965 ruling which overturned laws barring the use of contraceptives by married couples.
"When asked about the Griswold case, Harriet Miers said what she has consistently said all along, and that is [that] she is not commenting on specific cases," Coats said.
Specter aide William Reynolds subsequently issued a statement saying the senator "accepts Ms. Miers' statement that he misunderstood what she said."
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (search) of South Carolina told FOX News that too much attention was being placed on the abortion issue.
"We can't have the whole confirmation process turn on the abortion question," Graham said. "It's not fair to the nominee. It's not good for the judiciary long-term."
Graham also defended Miers' lack of judicial experience, pointing out that 10 of the last 34 justices, including Rehnquist, were not judges before being appointed to the Supreme Court.
One prominent conservative pundit who has come out against the Miers nomination said she faces a tougher nomination fight than Roberts experienced.
"If she cannot explain herself on really important cases, she's going to be humiliated and defeated," columnist Charles Krauthammer told FOX News on Tuesday.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., issued a statement saying, "My top questions are: does she have a consistent and well-grounded conservative judicial philosophy and what objective evidence is there of it from her life's work?"
"With her conservative judicial philosophy, she understands that judges must not legislate from the bench," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the conservative American Center for Law and Justice and a Miers supporter. "And while she may hold personal views that underscore the value of human life, it would be wrong for those views to be used against her in the confirmation process."
Miers also met with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. on Monday, and Schumer later told reporters that Miers made it clear to him that she wasn't going to answer questions that could show how she might rule on Roe v. Wade.
When Schumer asked Miers about her position on Griswold, she demurred, he said.
"I'm going to give her a break," Schumer said. "She's not a constitutional lawyer — she never reported to be a constitutional lawyer — but she clearly needs some time to learn about these cases, to become familiar with these cases, and then she will be able to give the American people her views."
Many conservatives fear Miers will become yet another Supreme Court justice appointed by Republican presidents who publicly opposed abortion, only to demonstrate support for Roe v. Wade once on the bench.
Justice David Souter, appointed by George H.W. Bush, and Justices O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy, both appointed by Ronald Reagan, have all voted to uphold the 1973 ruling.
FOX News' Wendell Goler and the Associated Press contributed to this report.