WASHINGTON (AP) – The senator who will preside at Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers’s confirmation hearings told her yesterday to expect to be questioned about White House’s policies on the war on terror and whether she can be independent of President Bush if confirmed.
Senate Judiciary chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) told Miers to expect questions on the area of executive authority “especially in light of your close relationship with the president and the key positions you have held in the White House.”
Specter said in a letter of preview questions for Miers, “What assurances can you give the Senate and the American people that you will be independent, if confirmed, and not give President Bush any special deference on any matter involving him which might come before the court?”
Miers is the White House counsel, and was also White House staff secretary and deputy chief of staff for policy before being nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Most of the questions sent to Miers dealt with legal issues pertaining to the war on terror.
Specter asked whether there were “any limitations” as to how long Guantanamo Bay detainees could be held. He also told Miers to expect to be asked the long-running question about Congress’s ability to declare war versus the president’s ability to sent troops into a military action.
“Was the Vietnam conflict a war which should have, as a matter of constitutional law, required a declaration of war by Congress?” Specter said.
Specter’s questions came as a conservative senator said the White House should provide written evidence that Miers has a conservative judicial philosophy instead of asking senators to rely her statements or the word of her friends.
“What I am suggesting is that I’d love to see more written material that predates the nomination,” said conservative Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) after an early morning meeting with Miers.
When asked how important getting that material was to his vote, he said, “It’s extremely important. I don’t know how to put it in a numbers term, but it’s extremely important.”
Miers was expected yesterday to give the Senate her answers to a second questionnaire from the committee. Specter and the committee’s top Democrat, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, criticized Miers’s responses to the committee’s first questionnaire as vague and incomplete.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he hopes Miers’s answers will be “both illuminating and complete. But the $64,000 question remains: Who is Harriet Miers? In some ways, the more we hear, the less we know.”
Senators are negotiating with the White House over what documents the administration will release from Miers’ work for President Bush.