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President Bush Renews Defense of High Court Pick


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

Today President Bush said that his White House counsel, Harriet Miers, will remain his choice for a seat on the Supreme Court, and he insisted that she will be confirmed by the Senate. Mr. Bush delivered that message at a time when conservatives continued to voice their doubts. We'll speak with the administration's point man on the nomination shortly. We begin, though, with NPR's David Greene at the White House.

DAVID GREENE reporting:

President Bush met in the Oval Office with Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, who wanted to talk about making it easier for Hungarians to obtain US visas. But as soon as reporters arrived, they wanted to talk about Harriet Miers. The first question was whether Mr. Bush would rule out withdrawing Miers' name, given the rebellion among some conservatives against her nomination.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: I am incredibly proud of my friend being willing to take on this task. She's going to be a great judge.

Unidentified Reporter: So you're ruling it out--any withdrawal?

Pres. BUSH: No. She is going to be on the bench. She'll be confirmed and when she's on the bench people will see a fantastic woman, who is honest, open, humble and capable of being a great Supreme Court judge.

GREENE: Mr. Bush was eager to express confidence and did so more than once. As aides rushed reporters out of the room, the president caught the eye of Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press, who had asked about Miers. He asked if she thought he had been clear enough and then he repeated that Miers will be confirmed. But some Republicans aren't so sure that's the best outcome. Sam Brownback of Kansas, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he would have preferred someone with a proven track record on issues like abortion. He met with Miers yesterday and offered this impression.

Senator SAM BROWNBACK (Republican, Kansas): She's a very decent lady. I think she's an accomplished woman. The--but to me the core issue is how is a person going to rule on these key issues and their view of the Constitution.

GREENE: Brownback's not alone. Mississippi Senator Trent Lott has expressed similar reservations. Conservative opinion leaders such as William Kristol, George Will and Charles Krauthammer have decried the choice. Still, the White House is insisting the media are missing Miers' wellsprings of support. Here's White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

Mr. SCOTT McCLELLAN (White House Spokesman): There are a lot of people, as I said--are you ignoring all the people that know her so well and that are speaking out and talking about how highly qualified she is to serve on our nation's highest court?

GREENE: One individual supporting Miers is James Dobson, a prominent conservative who founded the organization Focus on the Family. He has said he trusts the president and is confident Miers is a good choice. But he also told his radio listeners this week that he's praying he's right. David Greene, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.