Miers's Favorite Supreme Court Justice Was ... ?





This much is clear: One of the former Supreme Court justices most admired by nominee Harriet Miers is Warren E. Burger. But just how quickly Miers recalled his full name and whether she ever referred to him simply as "Warren" is now a matter of dispute.

Miers noted her admiration of Burger during a meeting last Wednesday morning with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. No staff members were present during the session, which took place in Leahy's office and lasted just over an hour.

But on Wednesday night, Leahy relayed highlights of the conversation to a group of senators and their aides in a gathering off the Senate floor.

One question he said he asked Miers was which Supreme Court justices she holds in high regard, and she answered Oliver Wendell Holmes and Burger, Leahy spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said yesterday. Several people who were present at the gathering Wednesday night said they heard the senator describe Miers as stumbling over Burger's name, at first calling him "Warren." In identical accounts provided to The Washington Post by two of those present, Leahy asked Miers to clarify whether she meant Warren Burger or the late Chief Justice Earl Warren, a liberal icon, and Miers replied that she meant Burger.

A brief version of the exchange appeared in a Post story on Friday, and neither the White House nor Leahy's office raised concerns about it. While preparing a story for Sunday that again recounted the exchange, a reporter asked White House officials about the anecdote. Again, there were no objections.

But during an appearance Sunday on the ABC show "This Week," Leahy said he could not recall Miers having first said "Warren," although he reiterated that she named Burger as one of the justices she admires. "Well, that story's not really all that accurate," Leahy said when asked about the published account.




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