WASHINGTON (AP) – As doubts grow about her abortion views, Harriet Miers will face vigorous questioning on privacy rights and her qualifications for the Supreme Court, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said President Bush’s pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor must show she can handle complicated legal issues and has not cut deals with the White House to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Miers’s nomination has caused division among conservatives, and a leader of the right said he will not be satisfied until it is clear whether Miers, a longtime Bush confidante who has never been a judge, would overturn the 1973 landmark abortion ruling.

“You can be an evangelical and you can be self-described pro-life. But it doesn’t tell us what she will do about a decision like Roe that has been set in stone now for over 30 years. And that’s the rub,” said Gary Bauer, president of the American Values Coalition.

Specter, noting that a justice has lifetime tenure, said, “If there are backroom assurances and if there are backroom deals and if there is something which bears upon a precondition as to how a nominee is going to vote, I think that’s a matter that ought to be known.”

Specter and the committee’s top Democrat, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, are considering having Focus on the Family founder James Dobson testify at Miers’s confirmation hearings. Dobson has said he is confident Miers opposes abortion, based on private assurances from the White House.

Disputing that, Leahy said Miers assured him that she had not made any promises on how she would vote on Roe.

“If assurances were given of how any nominee – whether this nominee or anybody else – and somebody gives assurances how they’re going to vote in an upcoming case, I would vote against that person,” said Leahy, who appeared with Specter on ABC’s “This Week.”

In recent days, many conservatives have expressed outrage that Bush did not choose a nominee with a proven judicial track record and it was risky putting Miers on the court because she was a blank slate on issues such as abortion and the death penalty. Some activists have said she should withdraw her nomination.

Bauer suggested that conservatives will not support Miers unless they have assurances that she would oppose Roe.

“The whole strategy here is the so-called stealth strategy,” he said. “And at the end of the day, the only ones who get fooled by it are conservatives.”

 

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