WASHINGTON (AP) – Conservatives continued to question President Bush’s nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court yesterday, causing a rare fracture in the GOP’s attempts to move the federal judiciary to the right.

Angela Cesere
U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, meets with White House counsel Harriet Miers on Capitol Hill yesterday. (AP PHOTO)

“There are a lot more people – men, women and minorities – that are more qualified in my opinion by their experience than she is,” said Sen. Trent Lott, (R-Miss.), formerly the Senate Majority leader.

Lott said it’s not enough for the president to say “trust me,” when it comes to the Supreme Court.

“I don’t just automatically salute or take a deep bow anytime a nominee is sent up,” Lott told MSNBC. “I have to find out who these people are, and right now, I’m not satisfied with what I know.”

“President Bush has an excellent record of appointing judges who recognize the proper role of the courts, which is to interpret the law according to its actual text, and not to legislate from the bench,” said David O’Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee. “We believe that Harriet Miers is another nominee who will abide by the text and history of the Constitution.”

GOP Sen. John Cornyn, a fellow Texan, a former judge and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also came out for Miers after meeting with her yesterday morning. Cornyn said he believes her Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing could begin as early as Nov. 7.

“I don’t need to reserve judgment because I know she’s the right person for the job now,” said Cornyn, who has known Miers for 15 years.

Cornyn acknowledged that Miers faces problems from some conservatives. “The president in a sense has disarmed some of his critics, but also made some of his supporters nervous by this nomination,” Cornyn said.

Conservatives in some cases are expressing outright opposition, some are in wait-and-see mode and others are silent, all bad signs for a Bush administration used to having the full backing of all wings of the GOP when it takes on the Senate’s minority Democrats over judicial selection.

“I’m getting reports on both sides,” said Paul Weyrich, a conservative leader from the Free Congress Foundation. “Some people are quite enthused about her and other people are very upset. The grass-roots are not happy, I can tell you that.”

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