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GOP wants Miers hearings in early November

/ Source: The Associated Press

Senate Republicans hope to begin confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers the week of November 7, officials said Monday as President Bush sought to bolster support for her troubled appointment.

Officials in both parties said Republicans have proposed a schedule for Miers’ confirmation process that calls for a vote in the full Senate before Thanksgiving. It was not clear whether Democrats would agree or seek changes.

The two parties haggled at length earlier this year over a confirmation timetable for John Roberts, eventually confirmed as chief justice.

Miers arranged personal meetings during the day with Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California. Both are members of the Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings and take the first vote on the nomination.

Bush named Miers to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who often cast the deciding votes on 5-4 rulings on abortion, affirmative action and other contentious issues.

Some conservatives criticized Bush for picking his White House counsel, a woman with no judicial experience, rather than a well-known jurist with clearly defined views on abortion and other issues, who could herald a change in direction at the court.

Bush has sought repeatedly to quell the criticism, and his latest attempt came during the day in the form of a meeting at the White House with six former members of the Texas state supreme court.

“Harriet Miers is a uniquely qualified person to serve on the bench. She is smart, she is capable, she is a pioneer,” the president said after meeting with the Texas judges. “She’s been consistently ranked as one of the top 50 women lawyers in the United States. She has been a leader in the legal profession. She’s impressed these folks. They know her well. They know that she’ll bring excellence to the bench.”

Despite the conservative criticism, none of the Senate’s 55 Republicans has yet to announce opposition to the appointment.