For Immediate Release
October 3, 2005
Fw: Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
12:23 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everyone. The President was pleased to
offer the Supreme Court nomination to Harriet Miers last night, and
pleased that she agreed and accepted it. Harriet Miers has a
distinguished legal career and a record of accomplishment. The National
Law Journal has recognized her on a number of occasions as one of the
nation's most powerful attorneys and one of the top 50 women attorneys
in the nation. She's worked at the highest levels of government, most
recently and currently as Counsel to the President in the White House.
She helped manage a 400 person law firm in Texas. She has clerked for a
federal district judge. She has tried cases before state and federal
courts, including trying cases before appellate courts on a broad range
Harriet has been a trailblazer for women in the legal profession. She
was the first woman elected president of the Texas Bar Association. She
has been a leader in the American Bar Association. She is someone who
is exceptionally well-qualified to serve on our nation's highest court.
She has earned the respect and admiration of the legal profession, and
she will earn the respect and admiration of the American people -- we
are confident of that.
The President was looking exactly for someone with her qualifications
and experience and judgment. She has great legal ability and good
judgment. She is someone of the highest integrity who will faithfully
interpret our Constitution and our laws.
Just to give you a little bit more information on how this came about,
the President was pleased to get the input and advice of the United
States Senate. We consulted with more than 80 senators. The President
took their advice very seriously. There were two things that stood out
to the President in those consultations: one, that Republicans and
Democrats alike had suggested Harriet Miers by name as someone that
would serve well on the United States Supreme Court; and, two, that the
President should consider someone that is not a judge, someone that
would bring some unique and different perspective to our Court. As you
all are aware, there are a number of justices that have served -- served
with exception and served with distinction that were not previously
members of the bench, or not previously served on the bench -- Chief
Justice Rehnquist is one; Justice Byron White is another one.
The President -- and remember, we consulted with more than 70 senators
in the first round when the President was considering the first vacancy.
This process was really a continuation of that first. There were a
number of people considered; there were a number of people interviewed
during this whole nomination process. There was a committee that the
President had set up the first time around with Andy Card, Harriet
Miers, Judge Gonzales, the Vice President, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl
Rove, and Chief of Staff to the Vice President, Scooter Libby.
The President considered a diverse group of potential nominees. He was
looking at people from all walks of life. This is not a position that
Harriet sought. She was someone who, as I mentioned, was involved in
the selection process. But as others on this committee were looking at
credentials and qualifications -- and the President, as well -- they
recognized that she was someone who had the kind of qualifications and
experience and judgment that was needed to serve on the nation's highest
And the President met with Harriet on four separate occasions to discuss
the vacancy with her specifically, including on September 21st, was the
first, and September 28th and 29th. He met with her last night over
dinner in the residence, and that was when he formally offered her the
The President had called Andy Card just before 7:00 p.m. last night to
let him know that he had made a final decision. Andy Card informed the
Vice President. And then this morning, the President called Chief
Justice Roberts around 7:00 a.m. to let him know about the decision.
And he spoke with Justice O'Connor around 7:15 a.m. to let her know
about the decision, as well.
And as you all are aware, Harriet has been over at the Capitol meeting
with leaders of the Senate to begin the consultations during the
confirmation process. And she met earlier with Senator Frist and
Senator Specter and Senator Stevens, and had good discussions with them.
She's scheduled to be meeting with Senator Reid this afternoon. And
we've also reached out to Senator Leahy to set up a time that will be
good for him to visit with her, as well.
And with that, I will be glad to go to questions.
Q Scott, some conservatives appear to be less than thrilled with this
nomination. One noted conservative columnist said that he had expected
the President to pick someone with a visible and distinguished
constitutionalist track record -- a suggestion that the President flinch
from a fight on constitutional philosophy, that this appears to be a
combination of cronyism and capitulation on the part of the President.
What would the President say to his conservative base to allay them of
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you ought to look at those who know
Harriet Miers well, because they have said other things than what you
just cited. There are a number of people who have praised her for her
great legal ability and her sound judgment and her extensive experience.
She is someone, as I just mentioned, who brings great legal ability to
this position. She is someone who has earned the respect of the legal
The President was looking for someone who has a philosophy of strictly
interpreting our Constitution and our laws, and she is someone who has
committed to do that. She will look at the law and she will apply the
law. And I think that that's what the American people want on the
bench. She was appointed, or nominated by the President because she is
the best person in his mind to fill this vacancy.
Q How would you describe her? Is she a bedrock conservative, an
ideological conservative, a moderate? What words would you use to --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I would describe her the way I did, John. As you
know, ideology, religion, politics, things of that nature don't really
have a place when it comes to making decisions on our highest court.
The decisions should be based on the law. Harriet Miers will apply the
law. She will look at the law, look at the facts of the case, and then
apply the law. That's what she's committed to doing, and that's what
the American people want on the bench.
Tom, go ahead.
Q Scott, she's a total skeleton candidate with no paper trail. Do
you think the --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I disagree with your characterization, because she
is someone who has a very distinguished career and a long record of
Q Well, let's say without judicial experience, and without having
taken public positions on issues, if that will -- if you're concerned
that that will give Democrats in the Senate more desire to take a long
-- very long time looking into her background to sort things out?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let me back up. There were -- and we appreciate
Leader Frist expressing his commitment to move forward in a timely
manner and have this confirmation completed by Thanksgiving. Senator
Specter made it clear that he was going to move forward on a thorough
confirmation process. We welcome that. Harriet looks forward to
sitting down with members of the Senate, visiting with them in person.
She welcomes the opportunity to go through the confirmation process and
answer their questions. I know that she's very much looking forward to
that. This is our nation's highest court, and it should be a thorough
The President went through a very thorough and deliberate process when
selecting her, and we would expect nothing less. We hope they will move
forward in a prompt and timely manner and that they will remain
committed to moving forward in a civil and dignified way, as Senator
Frist and Senator Specter expressed their commitment to doing so earlier
But let me back up, because I think it's important to look at the Court.
There are a number of justices who have served on the United States
Supreme Court that had no prior judicial experience. I think that is a
strength that can be brought to the Court. It will help offer a broader
perspective and bring some broader experience to the Court.
That's something the President did consider as he was making this
selection. Neither Chief Justice Rehnquist, nor Justice White had prior
judicial experience when they were appointed to the bench. But they
both become two of the most distinguished and respected justices in
recent memory. And they served for 30-plus years with great excellence,
and so I think you have to look at that. But there have been, I think,
some 38 people appointed to the highest court that did not have prior
judicial experience. But she does have experience as a practicing
lawyer, very extensive experience. And that is something that the
President considered, as well.
Q Harry Reid said that he likes her. Are you encouraged by that
comment from him?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as I said, there are Democrats and Republicans
alike who suggested that she would be a good nominee.
We did take those into consideration.
Q Was he one of them?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into any individual discussions;
I'll let them speak for themselves. But I think you've heard from a
number of senators, Republican and Democrat, who said that the President
should look outside the bench for when he makes this selection.
Kelly, and then I'll come back here.
Q To what extent did the President's personal friendship with Harriet
Miers have an impact on his ultimate decision? And those who say that
it is sort of the appearance of cronyism, that -- did this relationship
give her an advantage, and the fact that she was heading the search
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President knows her well. He has known her
for some time now. But the decision was based on who was the best
person to fill this vacancy. And she has the qualifications and
experience needed to do an outstanding job on the United States Supreme
Court, and that's why the President selected her.
Q Was he rewarding a friend?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I said he was appointing someone who will make an
outstanding Supreme Court Justice. And all you have to do is go and
look at her record and what she brings to the Court. She brings very
diverse and broad experience that will be very helpful to the Court.
Go ahead, Terry.
MR. McCLELLAN: Scott, you mentioned her legal experience. Part of that
experience is that she was the President's personal lawyer. Can you
tell us some of the matters that she would have represented the
President in? I understand there was a real estate matter. Did she get
involved in the National Guard stuff, the jury duty -- can you tell us
MR. McCLELLAN: There will be a confirmation process. No, I don't have
specifics on that in front of me. She did, originally, I think, serve
as counsel to the President's gubernatorial committee that was set up
when he was first running for governor, back in '93, and I think it was
some time after that she did represent him in some personal matters.
Q And you can get us details on what those matters were?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll work on getting you more information. Obviously,
that will be something that, I'm sure, will come up during the
Q And something else will come up, and I just want to let you have
the opportunity to answer directly, and Kelly was getting at. What do
you say when people will say he put his own lawyer on the Supreme Court?
That's definitional, cronyism.
MR. McCLELLAN: I'd say look at her record. As I said, she is someone
that he knows well. But look at her record. Her record is one of being
a trailblazer for women in the legal profession and a record of being a
tough and strong litigator who has represented clients before state and
federal courts on a broad range of issues. She is someone who brings
the exact kind of experience and qualifications needed on our nation's
highest court, and that's why the President selected her.
Helen, go ahead.
Q I have a two-part question. She's going to obey the law of the
MR. McCLELLAN: You're taking the Les mode now.
Q She's going to pay strong attention to the law of the land, which
means she should support Roe versus Wade. And, also, what policies has
she participated in, in the White House, that are already on the record?
Can you say what her participation was?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, she's been very involved in the policy process
here at he White House. She started as the Staff Secretary for the
President when he first came into office. Then she became the Deputy
Chief of Staff. And then, just about six/seven months ago, the
President named her his White House Counsel. So she's been very
involved in policy matters here at the White House. That was part of
her role, and that's one of her strengths, is that she has served within
the administration at some of the highest levels of government. The two
justices I mentioned earlier, Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice White,
Q No, I'm asking --
MR. McCLELLAN: I know, but I'm pointing out, they were members of the
administration prior to being nominated to the bench.
Q Well, what policies --
MR. McCLELLAN: So it's helpful that she has that kind of broad
experience. She has served as a city councilwoman in Dallas. She has
served as a state official on the Texas Lottery Commission -- she helped
clean it up when it needed cleaning up. And she is someone who has
produced positive results.
Q Can we assume that his policies -- that she had a big, strong hand
in the policies that we've watched over the -- since 2001?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, she's been very involved in the policy process
here. She's been a senior member of the President's White House staff.
Q On treatment of the prisoners of war, for example?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the General Counsel of the White House during the
time you're referring to was Justice -- was Judge Gonzales, or Attorney
Q Scott, he --
Q She gave money to Al Gore in the --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he's answered those questions before the Court, but
I think she's going back to some of the previous directives that were
Q She give money to Al Gore and Bentsen in the '80s. Do you have any
information that she was ever registered as a Democrat?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know what her affiliation was back then. I do
come from Texas, and I do know that there were not a lot of Republicans
back in the '70s and early '80s in Texas. And most of the elected
officials in Texas, and certainly the statewide level, were Democrats at
the time. They were conservative Democrats and liberal Democrats. And
I think that since probably about 1988, she has contributed exclusively
to Republicans as an individual.
Q So you don't know what -- before that, you don't know her
affiliation before that?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I was just pointing out the history of Texas. Many
of us in Texas grew up Democrats because there really wasn't much of a
-- there weren't many Republicans elected to statewide office. Many of
the elections were decided in the primaries, and so I think some of
those contributions go back to primary time.
Q Did you give money to Al Gore? (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: I did not. When I became 18 I was a Republican and
voting Republican, and proud of it.
Q Scott, back on Tom and Helen's question --
MR. McCLELLAN: I supported the President's father, too. (Laughter.)
Q Back on Tom and Helen's question, people are trying to zero in on
her opinions. They are concerned that, you know, granted, she doesn't
have any paper trail from the bench or what have you, but they want to
know specifically what her thoughts are on issues. Specifically, can
you give us something that, from the White House Counsel's Office, what
she has thought, what she has worked on, the opinions that she's put
into the work that she's done?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as Staff Secretary you have involvement in a broad
range of issues; as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, you have
involvement in a broad range of issues; as General Counsel to the
President, you have involvement in a broad range of issues. And the
confirmation process will be an opportunity to discuss these matters.
I'm sure that she will answer questions appropriately.
Q Well, people like Howard Dean, are asking -- they're, like, the
jury is still out because they want to know what her opinions are. What
would you say to Howard Dean, beyond the spinnage [sic] you're giving
now, to give something specific --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, beyond what?
Q The spin --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm giving the facts.
Q No, you're not answering directly, Scott.
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I'm giving the facts, April.
Q No, you're not answering directly, Scott, about her opinion.
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I'm giving the facts. There's some spin going
on from you. (Laughter.)
Q Okay, so anyway -- okay, thank you. So, anyway, on another subject
MR. McCLELLAN: I would say they ought to look at what Senator Leahy
said. It's too early to reach any firm judgment about such an important
nomination, if there are Democratic members of his own party that are
saying otherwise. Senator Harry Reid said -- made some very positive
comments about Harriet Miers.
The standard that we should look at, April, is qualifications. That has
been the precedent, and certainly in recent history, is what are the
person's qualifications. Are they qualified to serve on the highest
court? Do they have the kind of background and experience and judicial
temperament to represent the American people well on the United States
Supreme Court? Harriet Miers is someone who will make the American
people very proud. She has the kind of experience that is needed on the
United States Supreme Court.
And so I encourage you to look at her record. She welcomes the
opportunity to talk about her distinguished career, and to talk about
her record of accomplishment. These will be questions that will come up
during the confirmation process, but there's been a precedent set. The
precedent is based on the Ginsburg and Breyer standard, and even people
before that. We should look at qualifications. There are many that may
have disagreed with some of the philosophical views or political views
that those justices took, but there was broad support when it came time
to confirm them to the Court, because people on both sides of the aisle
recognized they were qualified to serve on our nation's highest court.
The one thing that the Court should not become is subject to partisan
politics. We would hope that Democrats wouldn't become -- wouldn't
become beholden to liberal special interest groups that want to prevent
a civil and dignified process from moving forward. That would be
Q And another -- Scott, quickly. On Bill Bennett, the President was
upset when he saw the issue about the stamp coming out of Mexico. What
are his thoughts about Bill Bennett and his statements about blacks and
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I spoke about that last week, and I think I've
already addressed that matter.
Q Can you address it again, please, because it's still an issue and
many people --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I've already answered that. I don't think --
Q People are calling for an apology.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- I need to again. Bill Bennett is someone who has
done a lot of good things in life for a lot of people from all walks of
Go ahead, Goyal.
Q Scott, two questions. One, as far as Katrina is concerned, and
Rita, there are hundreds of small businesses are out of business, and
they are nothing now to --
MR. McCLELLAN: Small businesses where?
Q In Louisiana and those affected areas.
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay.
Q And they were employed -- hundreds of thousands of people they were
employed. Now they can't --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll tell you what, can I come back to you? Because I
think there's probably more people that have questions about the Supreme
Court. And if we have time, I'll come back to you.
Q Can I get one? Can I ask you real quick?
MR. McCLELLAN: You've had one. Dana.
Q No, just real quick.
MR. McCLELLAN: No.
Q Are you going to make available all the documents regarding her
time here --
MR. McCLELLAN: Dana. I'll come back to you.
Q That's my question.
MR. McCLELLAN: Is that your question?
Q It's my question.
MR. McCLELLAN: Do you defer -- do you defer to John Roberts?
Q No, no. What I was going to say is essentially that recent history
shows that Democrats, especially when there's virtually no paper trail,
they want to know what the nominee has done, particularly --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's what the confirmation process is for. And
Harriet Miers looks forward to that process.
Q If and when the Democrats ask to see the documents, the papers, the
consultations that Harriet Miers was involved in, in the White House and
the executive branch, will --
MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. She welcomes the opportunity to
answer questions during the confirmation process. That's an important
part of the confirmation process. And I'm sure that she will answer
questions in an appropriate manner. We will also make sure that we
provide them appropriate information so that they can do their job.
Q Does that mean we'll be more inclined to show them some of the
documents that perhaps before were --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to speculate. And I'm not aware of any
such requests that have come at this point.
Q Okay. Wait, can I just follow up on one thing?
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, yes, go ahead.
Q Along the lines of what Terry was asking. There's a report that
the President hired Harriet Miers to look through his background for
anything that could be derogatory when he first started thinking about
running for office, back when he was in Texas, back in --
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me double-check. I wasn't working for him at that
point. Go ahead.
Q Scott, could you please elaborate on the four meetings, including
the dinner the President had with Ms. Miers? It seems like that they're
in contact with each other anyway, throughout the normal working
process. Why did it take four meetings -- did she readily agree to
serve, or did he have to talk her into it? Can you tell us a little bit
about each of those meetings?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as I mentioned, I don't think this was something
that she expected. She was not seeking this out. She, earlier today,
said how honored and humbled she was to be selected by the President to
serve on our nation's highest court. The President, having known her,
believed that she would make an outstanding Supreme Court Justice. And
that's why the first meeting began on September 21st, to talk to her
about the possibility. And those discussions continued over time.
I wouldn't look at that as being surprising or anything, I think that's
just part of the nomination process. The President was doing his
homework. He was seriously considering a number of people, from all
walks of life. And it became clear to him, having known her and having
been very familiar with her record of accomplishment and her long
career, distinguished career, that she would be the best person for this
Q Did she readily agree to it, or did she have to kind of be brought
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think if you look at her record, she is always
someone who has answered the call to serve. She is someone who has done
an enormous amount of pro bono work. The President talked about earlier
in his remarks all the community service activities that she has been
involved in. And that is something that she has always been committed
to, serving the people and helping people who are in need.
Q Scott, when I asked earlier about whether or not some conservatives
who have expressed concern that this is a capitulation, and that perhaps
Ms. Miers isn't going to be conservative enough, you said that ideology,
religion and politics, things of that nature, don't really have a place.
Do you think --
MR. McCLELLAN: When you're on the Supreme Court and you're making
decisions, you make decisions based on the Constitution and based on the
law and then you apply that law. I think that that's what the American
people want, including conservatives.
Q So that said, then, what would you say to cheer those conservatives
who are concerned that this is a capitulation?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think they ought to look at some of the
comments, and, again, this is an appointment of someone who will
represent all Americans well. And I think, as I said, the American
people want someone who is going to strictly interpret our Constitution
and our laws, and is going to apply the law -- that's going to look at
the facts and apply the law.
And they ought to look at some of the comments from people who know her
well -- many of their colleagues, people who are very familiar with her,
because they have spoken out about how well-qualified she is and what an
outstanding jurist she would make.
Q And can you give us some indication as to how the President decided
he would deal with these charges of cronyism, what his reaction might
have been as it was discussed during the process?
MR. McCLELLAN: He doesn't spend time thinking about it. He's looking
for the best person for the position, and that's what he focuses on.
Q If I understood your opening remarks, it sounded like some
Democrats, in advance of the announcement, had said flattering things
about Ms. Miers.
MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.
Q I'm wondering if -- who were --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's part of the consultative process. I'm not going
to get into names. If they want to talk more about it, they are welcome
to do so, but I'm not going to get into names from this podium out of
respect for that process.
Q But we can assume that some key Democrats said, she's not
radioactive, she's okay with us?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think they used those words. (Laughter.)
Republicans and Democrats alike both suggested her name as someone who
would make an outstanding Supreme Court nominee.
Sarah, go ahead.
Q I have a different subject, so I'll wait until --
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay. Supreme Court. Les? No? Okay, go ahead.
Q Scott, it's been suggested that because she has no body of judicial
rulings to examine, that Harriet Miers should be more forthcoming than
other Supreme Court nominees. Is that a reasonable suggestion?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you ought to look back at what Justice Ginsburg
said and what other justices have said, that -- are you talking
specifically about answering questions about cases that may come before
the Court? Because that's never been a --
Q Well, about --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the judicial philosophy is one of strictly
interpreting our constitutional laws, and certainly, there will be
questions talking about the law and how you apply the law. That's part
of the confirmation process. Judge Roberts did that. And I disagree
with your assessment of the previous confirmation process, because it
has never been a precedent before the Supreme Court that justices -- or
nominees should get into answering questions about cases that may come
before the Court. Go back and look at recent nominees and look at what
justices on the Supreme Court have said. You shouldn't be prejudging
cases that could come before you.
Q I wasn't being -- I wasn't making any judgment, I'm just saying
that it has been suggested that there should be a higher standard if
there isn't this body of legal work. Is that not fair?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's what I -- I think the question you're
getting to is talking about cases that could come before the Court. And
that's why I was making clear what that precedent has been. But,
certainly, she will answer all questions appropriately.
Q There must be many other female corporate lawyers around the
country who are also extremely well-qualified in the way that she is.
Is there anything particular in her background with regard to her
knowledge of constitutional law that makes her particularly
well-qualified for this nomination?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's everything the President mentioned earlier today,
as well as everything we've put out on her and her long distinguished
career. I mean, if you go and look at -- I mean, Chief Justice
Rehnquist, Justice White, they were nominated at a much younger age than
Harriet Miers, and had not had as much legal experience as someone like
she has had. She is very uniquely qualified to sit on our nation's
She is someone who was selected by her colleagues, who know her best, in
Texas, to serve as the first president of the Texas Bar Association.
She was a candidate for the second-highest position at the American Bar
Association before withdrawing her name so she could come to Washington
and serve in the administration of the President, back in 2001.
Q So in terms of writings or constitutional law, you're not aware of
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President has certainly talked to her about
the philosophy that she applies. And that's why he said --
Q Can you tell us about she said?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. She is someone who will strictly interpret our
Constitution and our laws, that will look at the law and apply the law
based on the facts of the case.
Q Just a quick follow up. It seems to me that every justice on the
Supreme Court would say that that is exactly what they do. It seems
that there's a very different understanding of what that means by
different justices. We don't know what their understanding is.
MR. McCLELLAN: There's a confirmation process that will come along in
due course. They are moving forward on the confirmation process
already. Those are all questions and issues that they can discuss
during that process.
Ken, go ahead.
Q Scott, two Miers-related topics. Does the President invite and
hope there will be close Senate scrutiny of her tenure at the Texas
MR. McCLELLAN: Certainly, that's part of her record, and I'm sure she
would welcome the opportunity to discuss her time there.
Q And what do you think her record there shows?
MR. McCLELLAN: That she helped -- what I said earlier. She is someone
who helped clean up the Lottery Commission. It was an agency that was
in need of cleaning up. And papers in Texas, not the one you work for,
I don't know -- well, maybe they did, but The Dallas Morning News,
certainly a well-read paper in Texas, praised her for the results she
accomplished at the Texas Lottery Commission. That's why the President
selected her; she was someone of the highest integrity, who brings a
very straightforward approach to the issue, and was able to get results
and turn that agency around.
Q In 1992, she was part of a group in the ABA that moved for
neutrality by that body on the topic of abortion. Is that to be viewed
as her feelings on the merits of the issue, or just on the merits of
what the ABA should be saying?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don't think that's correct. I think in 1993 the
American Bar Association had voted to endorse -- essentially endorse
abortion, and taken a position on that. And she was head of the Texas
Bar Association at the time. She took the position that if the Bar was
going to take a position on the issue, that the members should be
allowed to take a vote. And that was her position, that the entire
membership should be able to vote on it.
Q Was it a statement at all about her position on abortion?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q Was it a statement at all about --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if you're getting into asking questions about
litmus tests, the President doesn't have litmus tests.
Q What kind of test does he have?
MR. McCLELLAN: You're asking specific questions about issues.
Q Has he been tested? (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: Peter, go ahead. I didn't hear that. Must have been
funny, though. It came from Ken Herman. It's not worth going back to.
Q One conservative group is circulating a memo on the issue that Ken
just mentioned, on this abortion-on-demand and taxpayer-funded-abortions
stand by the ABA, characterizing her as the leader of that campaign. Is
MR. McCLELLAN: She was the leader of the Texas Bar Association.
Q Was she the leader of this campaign, though, to have the ABA in the
practice of supporting, "abortion on demand"?
MR. McCLELLAN: She felt that the membership ought to be able to vote on
Q How many cases -- how many, aside from -- separate from this, how
many cases was she actually at the defense table for? How many cases
has she actually been involved in?
MR. McCLELLAN: She's argued a number of cases, on a broad range of
issues. She's a well-known, proven litigator, and someone who has
represented clients before state and federal courts, and someone who has
represented clients before appellate courts.
Q Do you have an exact number?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's her background as a practicing lawyer.
Q Do you have an exact number on how many?
MR. McCLELLAN: I can check on that. I'm sure that -- I'm sure we can
pull that together. I don't have that specific number off the top of my
Go ahead. Supreme Court still?
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, go ahead.
Q The Anna Nicole Smith case is coming before the Supreme Court, and
she's from Texas. And if this confirmation goes through smoothly, would
Harriet Miers have to recuse herself because she may know some of the
legal people involved out of Dallas in this --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's out of left field. I hadn't even thought about
that, and, no, I don't know that there's any connection there
Q Would she have to step aside because of the players involved --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't even know who the players are that are involved.
Q Her husband is a wealthy Texan, oil man and --
MR. McCLELLAN: So that has a connection to the case?
Q No, but Harriet Miers might have had some social or legal
interaction with some of the people out of Dallas --
MR. McCLELLAN: None that I know of.
Q What about Paris Hilton? (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth. Your seat is open up here.
Q Okay. Two things. One, did she do pro bono work for the Exodus
Ministries, or Exodus Prison Ministries?
MR. McCLELLAN: It was the prison ministries. She did serve on the
board of that ministry, which helped prisoners who had served their time
adjust back into society and reunite with their families.
Q -- Exodus Ministries -- so is that --
MR. McCLELLAN: The one I just described to you.
Q You mean Exodus Prison Ministries?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct, yes. And I just described which one she
was a board member of.
Q Okay. She had no relation to Exodus Ministries?
MR. McCLELLAN: No.
Q Okay. Secondly, these four meetings, were they similar to the
other interviews for the Supreme Court -- you know, potential nominees
the first time around --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know if you can necessarily describe them as
similar. Oh, were they all in the residence? I think some may have
been in the Oval Office. I'll have to double-check which ones were
where. I can check that for you. But I don't know if you can
necessarily say "similar." There are some people the President
interviewed last time that he didn't know as well as he knows Harriet.
Q But how many people did he interview this time?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I don't think you can separate out the first
nominating process from this nominating process. He interviewed a
number of people previously. The committee that was involved has
interviewed a number of people, as well. And --
Q You don't have the number of how many he sat down with?
MR. McCLELLAN: He interviewed five the first time, and he interviewed
some additional ones this time.
Q How many?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'd leave it at that.
All right, questions on other topics, or are we still on Supreme Court?
Supreme Court? Finlay.
Q Maybe I missed this, but do we know anything about her academic
rankings as an undergraduate and law school? Was she law review,
summa/magna cum laude?
MR. McCLELLAN: We can get you that biographical information, but I
think she did very well academically.
Q Okay now?
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, Goyal, then Sarah.
Q A question as far as the economy is concerned in those affected
areas of (inaudible). Small businesses, especially minority-owned
businesses, they are in trouble, putting back together their businesses
because they've been hiring hundreds of thousands of those affected
victims. So what is President doing about those -- putting together
those businesses so they can hire back those affected victims?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've issued some waivers that will help open up
the process to more small businesses, and that would include
women-owned, or minority-owned small businesses. The President very
much believes that the role of the federal government is to support the
state and local vision for rebuilding the region in the Gulf Coast. And
Mayor Nagin announced the appointment of a private sector-led commission
on renewal and rebuilding. The Governor of Mississippi has announced --
is moving forward on a commission to look at all these issues.
We want to continue to support those efforts. And one thing that is
important that you bring up to do is to help people get back into their
communities, particularly at the jobs that are most needed right now.
So that helps -- if we can get them the temporary housing that they
need, help put them in a position to get back to work and help their
companies. The President visited Folgers Coffee Plant in New Orleans,
and they had taken a number of steps to get trailers right on the
property there so that they could get the workers and contractors back
in place to get those jobs going again and get the economy going again.
That's an important part of the process.
Sarah, go ahead.
Q Thank you. Scott, there are those in New Orleans and Louisiana who
want to destroy all structures in the lower Ward Nine of New Orleans.
That is a predominately poor and black neighborhood, and many families
there don't want to relocate. How does the President feel about this
project and massive relocation and destruction of a historic
MR. McCLELLAN: Two things. One, the President has committed to a
locally inspired vision. He wants that to be decisions of the local
officials and local community leaders and others. And, two, the
President believes that it's up to the people from those communities to
decide where they want to live and where they want to go. And we want
to help assist them in that effort.
END 12:58 P.M. EDT