WASHINGTON – A Democrat on the Senate committee that will consider Harriet Miers' (search) nomination said Sunday that President Bush's Supreme Court choice lacks the votes now to be confirmed, saying there are too many questions about her qualifications.
"If you held the vote today, she would not get a majority either in the Judiciary Committee or the floor," said Sen. Charles Schumer (search), D-New York. On the 18-member GOP-controlled committee, "there are one or two who said they'd support her as of now."
But the committee's chairman, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, rejected the notion that Miers' nomination was in trouble. Specter said most senators are waiting for the hearings before making up their minds "There are no votes one way or another," he said.
Miers, a longtime Bush confidante who has never been a judge, was nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The nomination has troubled some conservatives who say it was a risky choice because Miers was a blank slate on issues such as abortion and gay rights.
Democrats, too, have expressed concerns about whether the current White House counsel could sever her close ties to Bush and rule independently once she were on the bench.
"The hearings will be make or break for Harriet Miers in a way they haven't been for any other nominee," Schumer said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "She'll have to do very well there. She has a tough road to hoe."
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (search), R-Texas, disputed suggestions that the White House was considering whether to withdraw Miers' nomination. Hutchison said the former Dallas lawyer is highly qualified and deserves to present her case. Confirmation hearings are set to begin Nov. 7.
"She is the only one whose entire career is in private practice," Hutchison said, in contrast to the current justices. "I can't imagine not having someone with practical real-world experience."
Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have asked the White House to release more information on the nonlegal work Miers has performed there over the past five years.
Brownback, a Judiciary Committee member, cited concerns he had about Miers' views on affirmative action following reports that she supported diversity and numerical set-asides when she was president of the State Bar of Texas.
"I do think we're going to have to see more information — not attorney-client privilege type information, but more information of the work product that she was involved with at the White House that was not of a legal nature but that's of a policy nature," Brownback told "FOX News Sunday."
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the committee, agreed. "The president has based that decision based on what he's seen her do in the White House. We ought to at least know what she did in the White House," he said.
A second committee Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, said she needs to hear more evidence that Miers can rule independently of the president, including administration decisions involving executive power, the fight against terrorism and the role of international law.
"I asked her whether she would recuse herself. She wouldn't answer that question. For me, that has to be yes," Feinstein said. "I think because so little is known about her views, she has an obligation to discuss those views fully." She appeared with Specter on CBS' "Face the Nation."
The head of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, said it was his guess that Miers would not be confirmed if the White House failed to provide the request documents.
"We have no idea what this woman's record is about. She's obviously an accomplished attorney. The question is what does she believe. We have no idea," Dean told ABC's "This Week."
"We've got to see what she wrote for the president when she was his legal counsel," he said.