Bush’s top court pick has never been a judge

US PRESIDENT George W Bush nominated White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court yesterday, turning to a lawyer who has never been a judge to replace Sandra Day O’Connor and help reshape the nation’s judiciary.

"She has devoted her life to the rule of law and the cause of justice," Mr Bush said as his first Supreme Court pick, Chief Justice John Roberts, took the bench for the first time a few blocks from the White House.

If confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, Ms Miers, 60, would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the nation's highest court and the third to serve there.

Ms Miers was the first woman to serve as president of the Texas State Bar and the Dallas Bar Association.

Senate Republicans said they would press for confirmation by Thanksgiving. Republican senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he intended to talk to Ms Miers "about how many speeches she's made and about how many articles she's written and about how many cases she's tried and what volume of paper we will have to look at".

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid was complimentary, issuing a statement that said he likes Ms Miers and adding "the Supreme Court would benefit from the addition of a justice who has real experience as a practicing lawyer".

Other Democrats sounded anything but conciliatory. "The president has selected a loyal political ally without a judicial record to sit on the highest court in the land," said Senator Barbara Boxer.

Ms Miers, whom Mr Bush called a trailblazer for women in the legal profession, said she was humbled by the nod.

Whatever her credentials for the high court, Ms Miers's loyalty to Mr Bush who once called her a pit bull in size six shoes is above question.

When Mr Bush first decided to run for governor in the early 1990s, he hired Ms Miers to comb his background for anything derogatory that opponents might try to use to defeat him.

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