Land: Miers’ record will be nearly identical to Roberts’

WASHINGTON (BP)--Richard Land predicts Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers not only will be confirmed, barring an unexpected revelation, but her record will be nearly identical to that of new Chief Justice John Roberts.

“I believe that unless something very unforeseen emerges in the hearings, she will be confirmed, and five years from now there will be a less than 1 percent difference in her voting record” and that of Roberts, said Land, the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in an Oct. 17 television appearance.

The Senate hearing on Miers’ nomination to the high court is scheduled to begin Nov. 7, the Associated Press reported Oct. 19. The Republican leadership would like to hold a confirmation vote in the full Senate before the Nov. 24 Thanksgiving holiday, according to AP.

If Miers is confirmed by that date, she would replace retiring Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in time for Nov. 30 oral arguments in two abortion-related cases. One involves a parental notification law in New Hampshire while the other concerns pro-life protests at abortion clinics.

Land made his prediction about Miers in an interview on “Tavis Smiley,” a Public Broadcasting System program.

In response to questions from Smiley, Land continued to defend President Bush’s nomination of Miers, who has been the White House counsel. While evangelical Christian leaders such as Land, James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice have endorsed the nominee, many conservatives have expressed disappointment with or opposition to her.

“I personally think that the White House was completely blindsided” by conservative opposition, Land told Smiley. “And I would point out to you that most of that uproar, not all of it, but most of it is not coming from evangelical social conservatives. It is coming from other kinds of conservatives who are itching to re-fight Bork.”

Robert Bork is the former Reagan nominee to the Supreme Court who was rejected by the Senate in 1987 after a campaign of vilification by liberals inside and outside that chamber.

Land said, “I had one commentator say to me, ‘Don’t you think the president has deprived us of a positive, healthy, beneficial debate about the role of judges in America by nominating Harriet Miers?’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ In this atmosphere in which we are today, where there is a poisonous atmosphere concerning confirmation hearings, I think the president is attempting to spare us a negative, divisive, corrosive debate that will do no one any good, particularly a nation that is at war.”

Smiley asked Land about a shift in strategy in which the White House, after appearing to emphasize Miers’ evangelical beliefs, is focusing on other aspects of her background and record.

Land said he was not a part of the White House strategy, adding, “And if they had asked me beforehand, I would have said that the idea of pushing her religious credentials is a bad mistake. I don’t think that a Supreme Court justice nominee’s religious beliefs ought to be part of the mix.”

Land repeated his previously made assertions that federal judges and justices should make decisions based on the “original intent and strict construction” of the Constitution.

He also reiterated his belief that Bush has earned the support of conservatives when it comes to judicial selections after four and a half years of “superb nominees” in the face of “unprecedented opposition.”

“If he tells us that Harriet Miers is a strict constructionist, original intent jurist who is going to interpret the law and not seek to legislate and make law from the bench, I believe he has earned the right to our trust until there is demonstrable evidence to the contrary,” Land said.

It was reported Oct. 18 that, during a 1989 race for the Dallas City Council, Miers endorsed a constitutional amendment to ban abortion except when the life of the mother is endangered. After she released to the Senate the questionnaire from a Texas pro-life organization, Sen. Sam Brownback, R.-Kan., said he “took some comfort from” her response, according to The Washington Times. Sen. John Thune, R.-S.D., said he felt a “level of comfort” after meeting with Miers Oct. 18. Brownback and Thune are among the pro-life, conservative senators who have been skeptical of Miers.

A public opinion poll released Oct. 18 showed white evangelicals provide the strongest support for the Miers nomination. They favor confirmation by 43-16 percent, but 41 percent are undecided, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. Americans in general also are uncertain about Miers. While 33 percent of the public believes Miers should be confirmed and 27 are opposed, 40 percent are undecided.

Among other groups, non-evangelical white Protestants favor Miers confirmation 36-26 percent; white Catholics support her 32-31 percent while secular Americans oppose her confirmation 31-21 percent.

On the issue of homosexual “marriage,” Land told Smiley of an encounter with a Harvard University student who asked him last spring why he would want to interfere in a private relationship between two people.

“And I said, ‘First of all, where did you get the idea that marriage is a personal, private relationship?’” Land said. “Marriage is a social and civic institution, and every society in human history ... has determined that it has the right to regulate who can get married to whom and under what circumstances and under what circumstances they can dissolve that relationship.

“And right now, two-thirds of the American people adamantly oppose [same-sex marriage],” Land said. “And I say to those who advocate it, if you want same-sex marriage, do what Dr. [Martin Luther] King did. Go out and change the hearts and minds of Americans. Don’t try to shove it down our throats through nine unelected justices.”

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