President Bush: Religion Factor In Miers Pick

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush said Wednesday his advisers were telling conservatives about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' religious beliefs because they are interested in her background and "part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion."

"People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers," Bush told reporters at the White House. "They want to know Harriet Miers' background. They want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions. And part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion."

President Bush, speaking at the conclusion of an Oval Office meeting with visiting Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, said that his advisers were reaching out to conservatives who oppose her nomination "just to explain the facts."

He spoke on a day in which conservative James Dobson, founder of Focus on Family, said he had discussed the nominee's religious views with presidential aide Karl Rove.

Continuing controversy

Not even a congressional recess nor Bush's preoccupation with hurricane recovery and affairs of state have shrouded the continuing controversy surrounding his selection of Miers to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Debate about Miers' credentials was prominent on the Sunday television talk shows and has continued to occupy considerable attention on the Internet.

Some of Bush's conservative critics say Miers has no judicial record that proves she will strictly interpret the Constitution and not -- as Bush says -- "legislate from the bench." They argue that Bush passed up other more qualified candidates to nominate someone from his inner circle.

Miers is Bush's second pick for the court. He chose John Roberts for the bench, initially to succeed O'Connor but then gave Roberts the nod for chief justice when William H. Rehnquist died. Roberts was confirmed by the Senate on a vote of 78-22.