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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush's Nominee for High Court Withdraws Herself

WASHINGTON -- Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination for the Supreme Court this morning after her selection by U.S. President George W. Bush led to criticism from conservatives and liberals and opposition to her appointment began to grow more intense.

In recent days, several prominent members of the Republican Party had begun to publicly question Miers' nomination, suggesting that she was not conservative enough on issues like abortion. Others, including both Republicans and Democrats, have questioned Miers' lack of judicial experience since her nomination was announced by Bush on Oct. 3. Democratic senators had also sought White House documents from Miers, who is the White House counsel, that might have given clues to her judicial philosophy.

With opposition from both Republicans and Democrats, it had become increasingly likely that Miers would fail to garner enough votes to be confirmed by the Senate.

Miers' withdrawal comes at a time when senior members of the Bush administration face possible indictment growing out of the disclosure of the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency officer two years ago. Public opinion polls also show that the president's popularity has fallen dramatically as the war in Iraq continues to claim Iraqi and American lives with no end in sight.

The fierce opposition to Miers' nomination from within Republican ranks, and her subsequent withdrawal, raised the possibility that Bush might seek to placate conservatives with a nominee whose views could harden opposition among Democrats.

In a statement Thursday, Bush said he had "reluctantly" accepted her decision to withdraw.

"It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure as the White House - disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel," Bush said in the statement.

He added: "Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the constitutional separation of powers -- and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her."

Bush said that he intended to fill the Supreme Court vacancy "in a timely manner."

In a letter to the president, Miers wrote that the confirmation process would have presented "a burden for the White House and our staff that is not in the best interest of the country."

She said that she had resisted surrendering internal documents, including legal advice to the president, because to do so would have interfered with the independence of the executive branch.

"Protection of the prerogatives of the executive branch and continued pursuit of my nomination are in tension," she wrote. "I have decided that seeking my confirmation should yield."

Miers had never been a judge. Before becoming the president's counsel, Miers had served as assistant to the president, the president's deputy chief of staff, and staff secretary at the White House.