Miers Gets Chance to Bolster Case in Second Questionnaire

Published October 27, 2005

| Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers (search) will get another chance to bolster her case when senators review her answers to a second set of questions from the committee in charge of her confirmation.

Miers' answers to a first questionnaire were criticized by Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (search), R-Pa., and senior Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont. She is expected to respond Thursday to a second questionnaire from the Judiciary Committee.

The committee has scheduled Nov. 7 confirmation hearings for her, but Specter and Leahy said Miers' answers to their original questions were "incomplete" and "insufficient," one of several setbacks Miers has faced over her nomination to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Leahy said Tuesday that Miers' second attempt needed to shine. "I don't think they're going to do a third makeover," he said Tuesday.

Some senators had expected to have Miers' answers before sundown Wednesday, and Sen. Charles Schumer (search), D-N.Y., criticized her for not getting it to the Judiciary Committee earlier.

"This is another in a series of disappointments," he said. "The Miers nomination is suffering from a serious bout of delay, distraction, and disorganization and needs a dramatic turnaround."

Specter on Wednesday released another set of questions that Miers may face when she appears in front of the Judiciary Committee. The chairman outlined questions relating to the administration's war on terror, Congress' constitutional authority to declare war and the authority of the president to detain aliens outside U.S. borders.

He also told Miers, who is White House counsel, to expect to be asked what assurances she could offer that she would be independent, if confirmed, "and not give President Bush any special deference on any matter involving him that might come before the court."

Since being named less than a month ago to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Miers has been criticized by some conservatives for not having a record of conservative judicial philosophy on issues like abortion and affirmative action.

While none of the Senate's 55 Republicans have announced opposition to her, several groups like Concerned Women of America are calling for her withdrawal.

"We believe that far better qualified candidates were overlooked and that Miss Miers' record fails to answer our questions about her qualifications and constitutional philosophy," said Jan LaRue, the conservative group's chief counsel.

Miers will make her 29th courtesy call on Thursday by meeting with Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn. Coleman said Wednesday that he will vote against Miers if she participated in her former law firm's work in providing legal opinions supporting a controversial tax shelter.

In 1999, when Miers headed the Dallas law firm, Locke, Liddell & Sapp, it helped the accounting firm Ernst & Young set up a tax shelter known as Contingent Deferred Swap, or CDS, according to Coleman's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee.

The tax shelter was banned by Congress in 2002.

Coleman said he has no evidence that Miers was directly involved, and that based on conversations with the firm it doesn't appear that she had been. "But I need to know what she knew about this, whether this was something that had been discussed," he said. "If it had been, what advice did she have?"

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