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Miers Supported Ban on Most Abortions
By JESSE J. HOLLAND Associated Press Writer The Associated PressThe Associated Press WASHINGTON Oct 18, 2005

WASHINGTON Oct 18, 2005 — Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers pledged support in 1989 for a constitutional amendment banning abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother, according to material given to the Senate on Tuesday.

"If Congress passes a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit abortion except when it was necessary to prevent the death of the mother, would you actively support its ratification by the Texas Legislature," asked an April 1989 questionnaire sent out by the Texans United for Life group.

Miers checked "yes" to that question, and all of the group's questions, including whether she would oppose the use of public moneys for abortions and whether she would use her influence to keep "pro-abortion" people off city health boards and commissions.

The survey was part of the material sent to the Senate with Miers' Supreme Court questionnaire, according to two people, one a Senate official and the other a conservative Republican consultant working with the White House on her nomination. Both spoke on condition of anonymity, noting the papers are part of the vetting process.

The abortion issue hangs over Miers' nomination much as it did over the appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts earlier this year. The situations are different, however Roberts replaced the late William Rehnquist, who voted to overturn the 1973 abortion ruling. Miers would succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has voted to uphold it.

"A candidate taking a political position in the course of a campaign is different from the role of a judge making a ruling in the judicial process." said Jim Dyke, a White House spokesman.

Miers' nomination has been met with skepticism from some conservatives, who say she has little by way of a record to establish her views on abortion, affirmative action and other issues. The Texans United for Life questionnaire is the first public indication of how Miers feels about abortion, although some of her supporters have assured conservatives that they believe she would overturn the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

Senators say Miers has insisted that she has not given anyone any assurances that she would overturn Roe v. Wade if given the chance.

"She said nobody knows my views on Roe v. Wade. Nobody can speak for me on Roe v. Wade," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on Monday, referring to the case that guaranteed women's constitutional right to an abortion, setting a legal precedent that abortion foes have been trying to overturn ever since.

In the questionnaire that she turned in the Judiciary Committee, Miers answered "no" to questions asking whether anyone during the nomination process discussed specific cases or legal issues with her to get an assurance on her positions. She also answered "no" to whether she told anyone how she might rule if confirmed.

The questionnaire also reveals that the White House was considering Miers for its first Supreme Court nomination along with now-Chief Justice John Roberts.

"When Justice Sandra Day O'Connor first announced her desire to retire, I was asked whether my name should be considered," she said in the questionnaire. "I indicated at that time that I did not want to be considered."

Miers said she then led the staff search that ended in Roberts' nomination. But she said her role was more passive after Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died.

"At some point I understand that individuals at the White House began considering me," she wrote. During four meetings with Deputy White House Counsel William Kelley, Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Bush, Miers said she "realized that my name was under consideration."

Bush offered her the position over dinner Oct. 2 and she accepted, she wrote.

The committee is expected to announce soon the November date for her confirmation hearings and hopes to vote on the nomination before Thanksgiving.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said Monday he was consulting with Senate Democrats as well as Miers before setting a date to begin questioning the White House counsel on her suitability to sit on the high court.

"The hearings will not start until there is a date agreeable to her," Specter told reporters. "It would be unfair to start the hearings before she is ready."

Miers met with Specter and other committee senators on Monday, and was continuing to make calls Tuesday with senators outside the committee, such as conservatives Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Wayne Allard of Colorado.

Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman and Elizabeth White contributed to this report.

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